Wales should have own banknotes, Plaid Cymru says

Jonathan Edwards MP argues decision would "boost Wales' national character" · Specific Scottish, Northern Irish banknotes continue to be issued · Welsh banknotes used to exist until 1908

20 pound banknotes.
20 pound banknotes. Author: Howard Lake
Wales should have its own banknotes, just like Scotland and Northern Ireland. The proposal has been put forward by Plaid Cymru during the debate on the Bank of England and Financial Services Bill, currently underway in the House of Commons. The pro-independence party also suggests renaming the Bank of England "the Sterling Central Bank."

MP in charge of the proposal, Jonathan Edwards, argues the decision would make more visible the "recognition [of Wales] as an equal nation" in the UK "and as an economic entity." Edwards also believes that it would "boost Wales’ national character."

Eight banks currently issuing banknotes

Unlike what happens in most countries, in the UK up to eight banks are allowed to issue legal tender banknotes. In England and Wales the prerogative corresponds to the Bank of England. In Scotland, the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Bank of Scotland and the Clydesdale Bank issue their own banknotes. The same goes in Northern Ireland for the Bank of Ireland, the First Trust Bank, the Danske Bank and the Ulster Bank.

Both the Scottish and the Northern Irish banks illustrate their banknotes with motifs related, respectively, to Scotland and Northern Ireland. Plaid Cymru believes its proposal would facilitate the inclusion of Welsh motifs in an everyday object such as banknotes.

Welsh banknotes died out in 1908

Several Welsh commercial banks were legally allowed to issue their own banknotes over the 18th and 19th centuries. But an 1844 law gave the Bank of England monopoly over banknote issue. This resulted in the gradual homogenization of banknotes in England and Wales, but not in Scotland and Ireland. With the demise of the North and South Wales Bank, in 1908, the history of Welsh banknotes came to an end.