England, Scotland and Northern Ireland all have their own their own banknotes - Wales doesn't. But that could change, if Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards gets his way.
The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP and Treasury spokesperson for Plaid Cymru said that Wales not having its own banknotes “denied an opportunity [for the country] to be treated as an equal nation within the UK”.
Mr Edwards said he would seek to amend the financial services bill before it is presented to the House of Commons. Plaid Cymru wants Lloyds Banking Group to be given powers to issue Welsh notes, which could depict historical and sporting figures, because it still retains the rights to the Bank of Wales.
“If Scotland and Northern Ireland can do it, there is no reason why Wales should not be able to", he said.
If Plaid's proposals were accepted, it would be the first time a new bank has been granted permission to print its own banknotes for more than 170 years. The 1844 Bank Charter Act prevented any bank not already doing so from issuing its own notes. At the time, there were seven Scottish and Northern Irish banks issuing its own notes. The North and South Wales Bank had been producing Welsh notes, but they were taken out of circulation in 1908 when it merged with Midland Bank.
Mr Edwards said: "For many years, people in Wales have been pleasantly surprised on visiting Scotland or Northern Ireland that they are perfectly able to issue and use their own sterling banknotes, only to be dismayed on returning to Wales to find that we are overlooked."
The Plaid Cymru MP also called for the Bank of England to be renamed the Sterling Central Bank, to reflect its obligation to the whole of the UK, not just England.
A spokesperson for the Welsh Conservatives agreed with the principle of the idea, but said more needs to be done. He said: "National identity and heritage are important but the Welsh economy needs more than just tokenistic gestures; it needs a new government."
A Treasury spokesperson said: "Under current legislation, no bank that does not currently have the right to issue their own commercial banknotes; whether they be in Wales, England, Scotland or Northern Ireland, are authorised to begin issuing banknotes."