Legal Tender (Scottish Banknotes) Bill 2017-19


An interesting Private Members' Bill and was presented to Parliament on Thursday the 11th of April 2019.  The Legal Tender (Scottish Banknotes) Bill 2017-19 was presented by Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael to "oblige businesses and companies to accept Scottish banknotes as payment".

When we say “interesting”, the purpose of the bill is to give Scottish banknotes the same status as notes issued by the Bank of England.  This all comes down to making Scottish banknotes “legal tender” which deserves explanation:

According to the Bank of England website:

“What’s classed as legal tender varies throughout the UK. In England and Wales, it’s Royal Mint coins and Bank of England notes. In Scotland and Northern Ireland it’s only Royal Mint coins and not banknotes.

There are also some restrictions when using small coins. For example, 1p and 2p coins only count as legal tender for any amount up to 20p.

Many common and safe payment methods such as cheques, debit cards and contactless aren’t legal tender. But again, it makes no difference in everyday life.”

But, as they go on to say, although there are rules, when it comes to settling a debt it is very much at the discretion of the person doing the selling.  It may be legal tender but it is perfectly legal to not accept payments in high value notes or, indeed, cheques, cards and contactless.

So, the bill’s purpose is admirable in making it possible for notes to be used across the whole of Great Britain, whether they are issued by the Bank of England or not.  Just as important is that it raises the profile of the issue.  It is one that always causes issues whenever we travel to and from Scotland, trying to ensure we exchange our Scottish notes north of the border for fear that they might not be accepted by some traders.