Chancellor of the Exchequer
The Chancellor and Under-Treasurer of Her Majesty's Exchequer known as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or the Chancellor, is a senior official within the Government of the United Kingdom and head of Her Majesty's Treasury. The office is a British Cabinet-level position; the chancellor is responsible for all economic and financial matters, equivalent to the role of finance minister in other nations. The position is considered one of the four Great Offices of State, in recent times has come to be the most powerful office in British politics after the prime minister; the Chancellor of the Exchequer is now always Second Lord of the Treasury as one of the Lords Commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Treasurer. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, it was common for the prime minister to serve as Chancellor of the Exchequer if he sat in the Commons. In cases when the chancellorship was vacant, the Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench would act as Chancellor pro tempore; the last Lord Chief Justice to serve in this way was Lord Denman in 1834.
The chancellor is the third-oldest major state office in British history. The earliest surviving records which are the results of the exchequer's audit, date from 1129–30 under King Henry I and show continuity from previous years; the chancellor controlled monetary policy as well as fiscal policy until 1997, when the Bank of England was granted independent control of its interest rates. The chancellor has oversight of public spending across Government departments; the holder of the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer is ex officio Second Lord of the Treasury as a member of the commission exercising the ancient office of Lord High Treasurer. As the Second Lord, his official residence is 11 Downing Street in London, next door to the residence of the First Lord of the Treasury, who resides in 10 Downing Street. While in the past both houses were private residences, today they serve as interlinked offices, with the occupant living in an apartment made from attic rooms resided in by servants. Since 1827, the chancellor has always held the office of Second Lord of the Treasury when that person has not been the prime minister.
A previous chancellor, Robert Lowe, described the office in the following terms in the House of Commons, on 11 April 1870: "The Chancellor of the Exchequer is a man whose duties make him more or less of a taxing machine. He is entrusted with a certain amount of misery which it is his duty to distribute as as he can." The chancellor has considerable control over other departments as it is the Treasury which sets Departmental Expenditure Limits. The amount of power this gives to an individual chancellor depends on his personal forcefulness, his status within his party and his relationship with the prime minister. Gordon Brown, who became chancellor when Labour came into Government in 1997, had a large personal power base in the party; as a result, Tony Blair chose to keep him in the same position throughout his ten years as prime minister. This has strengthened a pre-existing trend towards the Chancellor occupying a clear second position among government ministers, elevated above his traditional peers, the Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary.
One part of the Chancellor's key roles involves the framing of the annual year budget. As of 2017, the first is the Autumn Budget known as Budget Day which forecasts government spending in the next financial year and announces new financial measures; the second is a Spring Statement known as a "mini-Budget". Britain's tax year has retained the old Julian end of year: 24 March / 5 April. From 1993, the Budget was in spring, preceded by an annual autumn statement; this was called Pre-Budget Report. The Autumn Statement took place in November or December; the 1997, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2016 budgets were all delivered on a Wednesday, summarised in a speech to the House of Commons. The budget is a state secret. Hugh Dalton, on his way to giving the budget speech in 1947, inadvertently blurted out key details to a newspaper reporter, they appeared in print before he made his speech. Dalton was forced to resign. Although the Bank of England is responsible for setting interest rates, the chancellor plays an important part in the monetary policy structure.
He sets the inflation target. Under the Bank of England Act 1998 the chancellor has the power of appointment of four out of nine members of the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee – the so-called'external' members, he has a high level of influence over the appointment of the Bank's Governor and Deputy Governors, has the right of consultation over the appointment of the two remaining MPC members from within the Bank. The Act provides that the Government has the power to give instructions to the Bank on interest rates for a limited period in extreme circumstances; this power has never been used. At HM Treasury the chancellor is supported by a political team of four junior ministers and by permanent civil servants; the most important junior minister is the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, a member of the Cabinet
The pound sterling known as the pound and less referred to as sterling, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the British Antarctic Territory, Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence. A number of nations that do not use sterling have currencies called the pound. Sterling is the third most-traded currency in the foreign exchange market, after the United States dollar, the euro. Together with those two currencies and the Chinese yuan, it forms the basket of currencies which calculate the value of IMF special drawing rights. Sterling is the third most-held reserve currency in global reserves; the British Crown dependencies of Guernsey and the Isle of Man produce their own local issues of sterling which are considered equivalent to UK sterling in their respective regions. The pound sterling is used in Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, Saint Helena and Ascension Island in Saint Helena and Tristan da Cunha; the Bank of England is the central bank for the pound sterling, issuing its own coins and banknotes, regulating issuance of banknotes by private banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Banknotes issued by other jurisdictions are not regulated by the Bank of England. The full official name pound sterling, is used in formal contexts and when it is necessary to distinguish the United Kingdom currency from other currencies with the same name. Otherwise the term pound is used; the currency name is sometimes abbreviated to just sterling in the wholesale financial markets, but not when referring to specific amounts. The abbreviations "ster." and "stg." are sometimes used. The term "British pound" is sometimes incorrectly used in less formal contexts, it is not an official name of the currency; the exchange rate of the pound sterling against the US dollar is referred to as "cable" in the wholesale foreign exchange markets. The origins of this term are attributed to the fact that in the 1800s, the GBP/USD exchange rate was transmitted via transatlantic cable. Forex traders of GBP/USD are sometimes referred to as "cable dealers". GBP/USD is now the only currency pair with its own name in the foreign exchange markets, after IEP/USD, known as "wire" in the forward FX markets, no longer exists after the Irish Pound was replaced by the euro in 1999.
There is apparent convergence of opinion regarding the origin of the term "pound sterling", toward its derivation from the name of a small Norman silver coin, away from its association with Easterlings or other etymologies. Hence, the Oxford English Dictionary state that the "most plausible" etymology is derivation from the Old English steorra for "star" with the added diminutive suffix "-ling", to mean "little star" and to refer to a silver penny of the English Normans; as another established source notes, the compound expression was derived: However, the perceived narrow window of the issuance of this coin, the fact that coin designs changed in the period in question, led Philip Grierson to reject this in favour of a more complex theory. Another argument that the Hanseatic League was the origin for both the origin of its definition and manufacture, in its name is that the German name for the Baltic is "Ost See", or "East Sea", from this the Baltic merchants were called "Osterlings", or "Easterlings".
In 1260, Henry III granted them a charter of protection and land for their Kontor, the Steelyard of London, which by the 1340s was called "Easterlings Hall", or Esterlingeshalle. Because the League's money was not debased like that of England, English traders stipulated to be paid in pounds of the "Easterlings", contracted to "'sterling". For further discussion of the etymology of "sterling", see sterling silver; the currency sign for the pound is £, written with a single cross-bar, though a version with a double cross-bar is sometimes seen. This symbol derives from medieval Latin documents; the ISO 4217 currency code is GBP, formed from "GB", the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code for the United Kingdom, the first letter of "pound". It does not stand for "Great Britain Pound" or "Great British Pound"; the abbreviation "UKP" is used but this is non-standard because the ISO 3166 country code for the United Kingdom is GB. The Crown dependencies use their own codes: GGP, JEP and IMP. Stocks are traded in pence, so traders may refer to pence sterling, GBX, when listing stock prices.
A common slang term for the pound sterling or pound is quid, singular and plural, except in the common phrase "quids in!". The term may have come via Italian immigrants from "scudo", the name for a number of coins used in Italy until the 19th century.
Britannia has been used in several different senses. The name is a Latinisation of the native Brittonic word for the island, Pretanī, which produced the Greek form Prettanike or Brettaniai, which in the fourth to the first centuries BC, designated a collection of islands with individual names, including Albion or Britain. In Modern Welsh the name remains Prydain. By the 1st century BC, Britannia came to be used for Great Britain specifically. After the Roman conquest in 43 AD, Britannia meant Roman Britain, a province covering the island south of Caledonia; when Roman Britain was divided into four provinces in 197 AD, two were called Britannia Superior and Britannia Inferior. Britannia is the name given to the female personification of the island, it is a term still used to refer to the whole island. In the 2nd century, Roman Britannia came to be personified as a goddess, armed with a trident and shield and wearing a Corinthian helmet; the name Britannia long survived the end of Roman rule in Britain in the 5th century and yielded the name for the island in most European and various other languages, including the English Britain and the modern Welsh Prydain.
In the 9th century the associated terms Bretwalda and brytenwealda ealles ðyses ealonde were applied to some Anglo-Saxon kings to assert a wider hegemony in Britain and hyperbolic inscriptions on coins and titles in charters included the equivalent title rex Britanniae. However when England was unified the title used was rex Angulsaxonum. After centuries of declining use, the Latin form was revived during the English Renaissance as a rhetorical evocation of a British national identity. Following the Acts of Union in 1707, which joined the Kingdoms of England and Scotland, the personification of the martial Britannia was used as an emblem of British maritime power and unity, most notably in "Rule, Britannia!". A British cultural icon, she was featured on all modern British coinage series until the redesign in 2008, still appears annually on the gold and silver "Britannia" bullion coin series. In 2015 a new definitive £2 coin was issued, with a new image of Britannia, she is depicted in the Brit Awards statuette, the British Phonographic Industry's annual music awards.
The first writer to use a form of the name was the Greek explorer and geographer Pytheas in the 4th century BC. Pytheas referred to Prettanike or Brettaniai, a group of islands off the coast of North-Western Europe. In the 1st century BC, Diodorus Siculus referred to Pretannia, a rendering of the indigenous name for the Pretani people whom the Greeks believed to inhabit the British Isles. Following the Greek usage, the Romans referred to the Insulae Britannicae in the plural, consisting of Albion, Hibernia and many smaller islands. Over time, Albion came to be known as Britannia, the name for the group was subsequently dropped. Although emperor Claudius is attributed with the creation and unification of the province of Britannia in 43 AD, Julius Caesar had established Roman authority over the Southern and Eastern Britain dynasties during his two expeditions to the island in 55 and 54 BC. Just as Caesar himself had been an obside in Bithynia as a youth, he had taken the King's sons as obsides or hostages, back to Rome to be educated.
The Roman conquest of the island began in AD 43, leading to the establishment of the Roman province known in Latin as Britannia. The Romans never conquered the whole island, building Hadrian's Wall as a boundary with Caledonia, which covered the territory of modern Scotland, although the whole of the boundary marked by Hadrian's Wall lies within modern-day Northern England. A southern part of what is now Scotland was occupied by the Romans for about 20 years in the mid-2nd century AD, keeping in place the Picts to the north of the Antonine Wall. People living in the Roman province of Britannia were called Britons. Ireland, inhabited by the Scoti, was called Hibernia. Thule, an island "six days' sail north of Britain, near the frozen sea" Iceland, was never invaded by the Romans; the Emperor Claudius paid a visit while Britain was being conquered and was honoured with the agnomen Britannicus as if he were the conqueror. She appeared as a more regal-looking female figure. Britannia was soon personified as a goddess, looking similar to the goddess Minerva.
Early portraits of the goddess depict Britannia as a beautiful young woman, wearing the helmet of a centurion, wrapped in a white garment with her right breast exposed. She is shown seated on a rock, holding a spear, with a spiked shield propped beside her. Sometimes she leans on the shield. On another range of coinage, she is seated on a globe above waves: Britain at the edge of the world. Similar coin types were issued under Antoninus Pius. After the Roman withdrawal, the term "Britannia" remained in use in Britain and abroad. Latin was ubiquitous amongst native Brythonic writers and the term continued in the Welsh tradition that developed from it. Writing with variations on the term Britannia appeared in many Welsh works such as the Historia Britonum, Armes Prydein and the 12th-century Historia Regum Britanniae, which gained unprecedented popularity throughout western Europe during the High Middle Ages. Following the migration of Brythonic Celts, the term Britannia came to refer to the Armorican peninsula (at least f
Parys Mountain is located south of the town of Amlwch in north east Anglesey, Wales. It is the site of a large copper mine, extensively exploited in the late 18th century; the mountain was mined for copper ore in the early Bronze Age, as shown by sub-surface debris nearly 4,000 years old revealed during excavations in 2002. Since access has been regained to the sealed underground workings of the Parys mine revealing further evidence for this ancient mining. Parys Mountain is thus one of the few sites in Britain where there is evidence for the prehistoric beginnings of the British metal mining industry; the 18th century miners recognised that they were following in the steps of much earlier workers, an observation, linked to the discovery locally of copper ingots bearing Roman inscriptions. In 1764 Charles Roe of Macclesfield was granted a 21-year lease by the Bayly family to work the mountain for copper. Rowland Pugh, a local miner, discovered the "Great Lode" on 2 March 1768 and was rewarded with a bottle of whisky and a rent-free house for his lifetime.
Although the ore here was of low quality, this was more than compensated for by the fact that it occurred in two large masses close to the surface. Ore was worked on the surface from shallow shafts, next by open-pit mining and underground from adits or from shafts; the ore was broken into small lumps by hand, the best ore being shipped to Lancashire or to the Lower Swansea valley in South Wales through the port of Swansea for smelting. Copper was extracted from the remainder using kilns and furnaces on site, it was discovered that purer metal could be obtained efficiently, although in small amounts, by its precipitation from drainage water with scrap iron in purpose-built ponds. Associated with the mines, important chemical industries were established on the Mountain based on by-products such as ochre pigments, sulphur and alum; the processes were described by the German writer and translator, Augustin Gottfried Ludwig Lentin who visited Parys Mountain in the 1790s and published his findings in Briefe über die Insel Anglesea: vorzüglich über das dasige Kupfer-Bergwerk und die dazu gehörigen Schmelzwerke und Fabriken.
Parys Mountain dominated the world's copper market during the 1780s, when the mine was the largest in Europe. Its rise damaged the mining industry in Cornwall; the copper from the mine was used to sheath the British Admiralty's wooden ships of war, to prevent the growth of seaweed and barnacles and to protect the wood from attack by shipworms. This increased the speed and manoeuvrability of the vessels, enabled them to remain at sea for longer as there was less need to return to port for maintenance. In response to a national shortage of small currency, the Parys Mine Company produced its own coinage between 1787 and 1793; the Parys Penny known as the Anglesey Penny, was used by the mine to pay workers, by the populace at large. It is thought that half pennies were minted. There is a waymarked trail around the mountain, giving views of Amlwch Port to the north and the nearby Trysglwyn wind farm to the south; those wishing to explore the historic mine levels need to contact the Parys Underground Group.
Since 1988, Anglesey Mining plc, which owns the western part of the mountain has discovered resources of 6,500,000 tonnes containing 10% combined zinc, copper with some silver and gold and has permits and a plan to restart mining operations at 350,000 tonnes per year. In the late 1990s, surveys of the mine's hydraulic systems revealed that a large reservoir held back by a dam in an underground working was in poor condition. An assessment made at the time considered that failure of the dam was and that catastrophic failure could inundate parts of Amlwch causing loss of life and substantial damage to property. An added complication was that the water in the underground reservoir was polluted by copper and other metals and was acidic. In 2003 a controlled drainage operation was carried out which dropped the water levels by 70 metres, releasing the pressure on the dam and enabling its removal; the removal of the reservoir gave access to many more passages and to a connection to the nearby inaccessible Mona Mine.
The entry into these sections was filmed for the TV series Extreme Archaeology. Due to the high level of soil contamination little life survives on or near the mountain, but there are a number of examples of rare plants and bacteria; the bare mined landscape give the mountain a strange appearance, used in the filming of science fiction film or television shows such as a scene in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Due to the high chemical content of the water, snottites thrive in the until submerged passages. Mynydd Parys is an anchor point on the European Route of Industrial Heritage; the volcanogenic massive sulfide ore deposit is located at the border of the Ordovician to the Llandovery epoch the ore is covered by an overlying layer of volcanic rhyolites. Web site Anglesey Mining plc Amlwch Industrial Heritage Trust BBC page from History Hunters series Parys Mountain - General BBC page Portfolio of pictures More Images of Parys Mountain
Birmingham is the second-most populous city in the United Kingdom, after London, the most populous city in the English Midlands. It is the most populous metropolitan district in the United Kingdom, with an estimated 1,137,123 inhabitants, is considered the social, cultural and commercial centre of the Midlands, it is the main local government of the West Midlands conurbation, the third most populated urban area in the United Kingdom, with a population of 2,897,303 in 2017. The wider Birmingham metropolitan area is the second largest in the United Kingdom with a population of over 4.3 million. It is referred to as the United Kingdom's "second city". A market town in the medieval period, Birmingham grew in the 18th-century Midlands Enlightenment and subsequent Industrial Revolution, which saw advances in science and economic development, producing a series of innovations that laid many of the foundations of modern industrial society. By 1791 it was being hailed as "the first manufacturing town in the world".
Birmingham's distinctive economic profile, with thousands of small workshops practising a wide variety of specialised and skilled trades, encouraged exceptional levels of creativity and innovation and provided an economic base for prosperity, to last into the final quarter of the 20th century. The Watt steam engine was invented in Birmingham; the resulting high level of social mobility fostered a culture of political radicalism which, under leaders from Thomas Attwood to Joseph Chamberlain, was to give it a political influence unparalleled in Britain outside London, a pivotal role in the development of British democracy. From the summer of 1940 to the spring of 1943, Birmingham was bombed by the German Luftwaffe in what is known as the Birmingham Blitz; the damage done to the city's infrastructure, in addition to a deliberate policy of demolition and new building by planners, led to extensive urban regeneration in subsequent decades. Birmingham's economy is now dominated by the service sector.
The city is a major international commercial centre, ranked as a beta- world city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. Its metropolitan economy is the second largest in the United Kingdom with a GDP of $121.1bn, its six universities make it the largest centre of higher education in the country outside London. Birmingham's major cultural institutions – the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, the Library of Birmingham and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts – enjoy international reputations, the city has vibrant and influential grassroots art, music and culinary scenes. Birmingham is the fourth-most. People from Birmingham are called Brummies, a term derived from the city's nickname of "Brum", which originates from the city's old name, which in turn is thought to have derived from "Bromwich-ham"; the Brummie accent and dialect are distinctive. Birmingham's early history is that of a marginal area; the main centres of population and wealth in the pre-industrial English Midlands lay in the fertile and accessible river valleys of the Trent, the Severn and the Avon.
The area of modern Birmingham lay in between, on the upland Birmingham Plateau and within the densely wooded and sparsely populated Forest of Arden. There is evidence of early human activity in the Birmingham area dating back to around 8000 BC, with stone age artefacts suggesting seasonal settlements, overnight hunting parties and woodland activities such as tree felling; the many burnt mounds that can still be seen around the city indicate that modern humans first intensively settled and cultivated the area during the bronze age, when a substantial but short-lived influx of population occurred between 1700 BC and 1000 BC caused by conflict or immigration in the surrounding area. During the 1st-century Roman conquest of Britain, the forested country of the Birmingham Plateau formed a barrier to the advancing Roman legions, who built the large Metchley Fort in the area of modern-day Edgbaston in AD 48, made it the focus of a network of Roman roads. Birmingham as a settlement dates from the Anglo-Saxon era.
The city's name comes from the Old English Beormingahām, meaning the home or settlement of the Beormingas – indicating that Birmingham was established in the 6th or early 7th century as the primary settlement of an Anglian tribal grouping and regio of that name. Despite this early importance, by the time of the Domesday Book of 1086 the manor of Birmingham was one of the poorest and least populated in Warwickshire, valued at only 20 shillings, with the area of the modern city divided between the counties of Warwickshire and Worcestershire; the development of Birmingham into a significant urban and commercial centre began in 1166, when the Lord of the Manor Peter de Bermingham obtained a charter to hold a market at his castle, followed this with the creation of a planned market town and seigneurial borough within his demesne or manorial estate, around the site that became the Bull Ring. This established Birmingham as the primary commercial centre for the Birmingham Plateau at a time when the area's economy was expanding with population growth nationally leading to the clearance and settlement of marginal land.
Within a century of the charter Birmingham had grown into a prosperous urban centre of merchants and craftsmen. By 1327 it was the third-largest town in Warwickshire, a position it would retain for the next 200 years; the principal governing institutions of medieval Birmingham – including the Guild of the Ho
Bronze is an alloy consisting of copper with about 12–12.5% tin and with the addition of other metals and sometimes non-metals or metalloids such as arsenic, phosphorus or silicon. These additions produce a range of alloys that may be harder than copper alone, or have other useful properties, such as stiffness, ductility, or machinability; the archeological period in which bronze was the hardest metal in widespread use is known as the Bronze Age. The beginning of the Bronze Age in India and western Eurasia is conventionally dated to the mid-4th millennium BC, to the early 2nd millennium BC in China; the Bronze Age was followed by the Iron Age starting from about 1300 BC and reaching most of Eurasia by about 500 BC, although bronze continued to be much more used than it is in modern times. Because historical pieces were made of brasses and bronzes with different compositions, modern museum and scholarly descriptions of older objects use the more inclusive term "copper alloy" instead. There are two basic theories as to the origin of the word.
Romance theoryThe Romance theory holds that the word bronze was borrowed from French bronze, itself borrowed from Italian bronzo "bell metal, brass" from either, bróntion, back-formation from Byzantine Greek brontēsíon from Brentḗsion ‘Brindisi’, reputed for its bronze. Proto-Slavic theoryThe Proto-Slavic theory reflects the philological issue that in the most of Slavonic languages word "bronza" corresponds to "war metal" while at the early stages of the Bronze working it was used exclusively for military purposes; the discovery of bronze enabled people to create metal objects which were harder and more durable than possible. Bronze tools, weapons and building materials such as decorative tiles were harder and more durable than their stone and copper predecessors. Bronze was made out of copper and arsenic, forming arsenic bronze, or from or artificially mixed ores of copper and arsenic, with the earliest artifacts so far known coming from the Iranian plateau in the 5th millennium BC, it was only that tin was used, becoming the major non-copper ingredient of bronze in the late 3rd millennium BC.
Tin bronze was superior to arsenic bronze in that the alloying process could be more controlled, the resulting alloy was stronger and easier to cast. Unlike arsenic, metallic tin and fumes from tin refining are not toxic; the earliest tin-alloy bronze dates to 4500 BC in a Vinča culture site in Pločnik. Other early examples date to the late 4th millennium BC in Egypt and some ancient sites in China and Mesopotamia. Ores of copper and the far rarer tin are not found together, so serious bronze work has always involved trade. Tin sources and trade in ancient times had a major influence on the development of cultures. In Europe, a major source of tin was the British deposits of ore in Cornwall, which were traded as far as Phoenicia in the eastern Mediterranean. In many parts of the world, large hoards of bronze artifacts are found, suggesting that bronze represented a store of value and an indicator of social status. In Europe, large hoards of bronze tools socketed axes, are found, which show no signs of wear.
With Chinese ritual bronzes, which are documented in the inscriptions they carry and from other sources, the case is clear. These were made in enormous quantities for elite burials, used by the living for ritual offerings. Though bronze is harder than wrought iron, with Vickers hardness of 60–258 vs. 30–80, the Bronze Age gave way to the Iron Age after a serious disruption of the tin trade: the population migrations of around 1200–1100 BC reduced the shipping of tin around the Mediterranean and from Britain, limiting supplies and raising prices. As the art of working in iron improved, iron improved in quality; as cultures advanced from hand-wrought iron to machine-forged iron, blacksmiths learned how to make steel. Steel holds a sharper edge longer. Bronze was still used during the Iron Age, has continued in use for many purposes to the modern day. There are many different bronze alloys, but modern bronze is 88% copper and 12% tin. Alpha bronze consists of the alpha solid solution of tin in copper.
Alpha bronze alloys of 4–5% tin are used to make coins, springs and blades. Historical "bronzes" are variable in composition, as most metalworkers used whatever scrap was on hand; the proportions of this mixture suggests. The Benin Bronzes are in fact brass, the Romanesque Baptismal font at St Bartholomew's Church, Liège is described as both bronze and brass. In the Bronze Age, two forms of bronze were used: "classic bronze", about 10% tin, was used in
On 15 February 1971, known as Decimal Day, the United Kingdom and Ireland decimalised their currencies. Under the old currency of pounds and pence, the pound was made up of 240 pence, with 12 pence in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound; the loss of value of the currency meant that the "old" penny, with the same diameter as the US half-dollar, had become of low value. The Coinage Act of 1792 had authorized the United States as the first English-speaking nation to have decimalised currency, although Tsar Peter the Great used the concept for the Russian ruble close to a century earlier, in 1704, while China has used such a decimal system for at least 2000 years; the United Kingdom's Parliament rejected Sir John Wrottesley's proposals to decimalise sterling in 1824, prompted by the introduction in 1795 of the decimal French franc. After this defeat, little practical progress towards decimalisation was made for over a century, with the exception of the two-shilling silver florin first issued in 1849.
A double florin or four-shilling piece was a further step in that direction but failed to gain acceptance and was struck only from 1887 to 1890. The Decimal Association was founded in 1841 to promote decimalisation and metrication, both causes that were boosted by a realisation of the importance of international trade following the 1851 Great Exhibition, it was as a result of the growing interest in decimalisation. In their preliminary report, the Royal Commission on Decimal Coinage considered the benefits and problems of decimalisation but did not draw any conclusion about the adoption of any such scheme. A final report in 1859 from the two remaining commissioners, Lord Overstone and Governor of the Bank of England John Hubbard came out against the idea, claiming it had "few merits". In 1862, the Select Committee on Weights and Measures favoured the introduction of decimalisation to accompany the introduction of metric weights and measures; the decimalisation movement entered fiction. In Anthony Trollope's Palliser novels, Plantagenet Palliser is a passionate advocate of decimalisation, a cause the other characters seem to find intensely boring.
Palliser's scheme would have divided the shilling into ten pennies. This would have changed the threepence into 2 1/2 new pence, the sixpence into fivepence and the half crown into a two shilling, five pence piece, it would have required the withdrawal and reissuance of the existing copper coinage. At the end of the fifth book in the series, The Prime Minister, Palliser muses that the reform will not be accomplished, since it can only be done by a Chancellor of the Exchequer sitting in the House of Commons, the Duke now sits in the House of Lords; the Royal Commission on Decimal Coinage, chaired by Lord Emmott, reported in 1920 that the only feasible scheme was to divide the pound into 1,000 mills but that this would be too inconvenient. A minority of four members disagreed. A further three members recommended that the pound should be replaced by the Royal, consisting of 100 halfpennies. In 1960, a report prepared jointly by the British Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association of British Chambers of Commerce, followed by the success of decimalisation in South Africa, prompted the Government to set up the Committee of the Inquiry on Decimal Currency in 1961, which reported in 1963.
The adoption of the changes suggested in the report was announced on 1 March 1966. The Decimal Currency Board was created to manage the transition, although the plans were not approved by Parliament until the Decimal Currency Act in May 1969. Former Greater London Council leader Bill Fiske was named as the Chairman of the Decimal Currency Board. Consideration was given to introducing a new major unit of currency worth ten shillings in the old currency: suggested names included the new pound, the royal and the noble; this would have resulted in the "decimal penny" being worth only more than the old penny. But Halsbury decided, in view of the pound sterling's importance as a reserve currency, that the pound should remain unchanged. Under the new system, the pound was retained but was divided into 100 new pence, denoted by the symbol p. New coinage was issued alongside the old coins; the 5p and 10p coins were introduced in April 1968 and were the same size and value as the shilling and two shillings coins in circulation with them.
In October 1969 the 50p coin was introduced, with the 10s note withdrawn on 20 November 1970. This reduced the number of new coins that had to be introduced on Decimal Day and meant that the public was familiar with three of the six new coins. Small booklets were made available containing all of the new denominations; the old halfpenny was withdrawn from circulation on 31 July 1969, the half-crown followed on 31 December to ease the transition. There was a substantial publicity campaign in the weeks before Decimalisation Day, including a song by Max Bygraves called "Decimalisation"; the BBC broadcast a series of five-minute programmes, "Decimal Five", to whi