Page last updated at 16:30 GMT, Friday, 6 March 2009

Scots 'hurt' by banknote refusals

Twenty pound note
Three Scottish banks print their own notes

An MP has told the House of Commons that Scots are "hurt" by the suggestion in shops across the UK that there is "something wrong" with their banknotes.

David Mundell was introducing a bill which would ensure Scots banknotes had to be accepted south of the border.

He said people in his Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale constituency wanted their money to be "accepted and not challenged".

He said it was time to put Scots notes on an "equal footing" with all others.

Mr Mundell told MPs that Scottish people were often "hurt by the implicit suggestion that there's something wrong" with their notes.

I am sceptical that the legislative vehicle is the best way to solve this problem
Angela Eagle
Treasury exchequer secretary

He stressed: "There is no difference in the financial value of Scottish notes."

He said his Scottish Banknotes (Acceptability in the UK) Bill could put an end to notes from the Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank being rejected in other parts of the UK.

"There is absolutely no reason why Scottish notes should be questioned unless there's a substantial reason to believe they are forgeries," said Mr Mundell.

"My constituents want their money to be accepted and not challenged."

Treasury Exchequer Secretary Angela Eagle said she understood how "potentially embarrassing, inconvenient and annoying" it could be to have Scottish banknotes refused.

She added: "I am sceptical that the legislative vehicle is the best way to solve this problem."

Legislative sledgehammer

She said the UK was "highly unusual" in allowing a number of commercial banks to issue banknotes and the government was committed to maintaining this long standing tradition.

"Before we resort to the legislative sledgehammer we should think about whether we can put in place a campaign that would enable and encourage retailers to become more familiar with different sorts of banknotes," she said.

Ms Eagle said changes due to come into force later this year would confirm that Scottish notes were "risk free" and had the same backing as Bank of England notes.

As time ran out on the debate at 1430 GMT, Mr Mundell complained about the minister "talking out" his bill.

It now stands little chance of making any further progress.

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