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23rd October 2008

Colofn Golwg: Galw am arian papur dwyieithog: Calling for bilingual bank notes

Wales is the only part of the British Isles which hasn’t endured a banking crisis. England has seen Northern Rock being nationalised in Newcastle, and Bradfod and Bingley in Yorkshire. Edinburgh is still coming to terms with the shock of HBOS and RBS. And in Ireland, one bank has been made bankrupt - a sub-company of a German bank which wasn’t protected by the Republic’s guarantee. In Wales, we only have one bank - as a result of the late Julian Hodge’s imagination. The real banking crisis in Wales is the fact that we don’t have a banking sector in the first place.

Wales is also the only part of the Kingdom which doesn’t have its own banking notes. There is a symbolic strength to this. Of the four countries, Wales was the least successful is building its own business class and institutional infrastructure. Its some kind of anachronism that all our Celtic cousins are able to print their own money. Hong Kong is the only other place in the world where private banks are allowed to do this. But there is also a financial loss to this. Banks such as the Clydesdale in Scotland or Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland make a profit on the basis of the pounds that they produce - a seigniorage worth around £65 million in Scotland’s case, according to the Treasury.

But in Wales, its the Bank of England that has the monopoly ever since the North and South Wales Bank was swallowed up by the Midland union a hundred years earlier (which has since been swallowed up by HSBC which do produce their own money, but only in Hong Kong). We, of course, have the Royal Mint which produces its own seigniorage of over £100 million a year. But the Treasury own this profit, unfortunately.

As a symbolic declaration of national confidence, as a push for the tourism sector and as a cheap international marketing plot, why don’t we insist that the Bank of England produces bi-lingual versions of its five, ten, twenty, and even fifty pound notes? After all, they are an official bi-lingual body under the Welsh Language Act. And why not add the nationalised banks to the list - aren’t they now part of the public sector? In the real economy there’s a need for a Welsh banking presence: a real investment bank, not a shadow bank to Welsh Revenue - a People’s Bank created by the Welsh Government from the remnants of Halifax and the Rock.

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Cymru erbyn hyn ydi’r unig ran o ynysoedd Prydain sydd heb brofi argyfwng bancio.  Mae Lloegr wedi gweld gwladoli Northern Rock yn Newcastle a Bradford a Bingley yn Swydd Efrog. Mae Caeredin yn dal i ddygymod a sioc cyflafan HBOS ac RBS.  Mae un banc wedi mynd yn fethdalwr ar yr ynys werdd – is-gwmni i fanc Almaenig oedd heb ei ddiogelu gan warant y Weriniaeth.  Yng Nghymru un banc sydd gyda ni – cynnyrch dychymyg y diweddar Julian Hodge.  Yr argyfwng bancio Cymreig ydi’r ffaith nad oes gennym sector bancio i brofi creisus yn y lle cyntaf.

Cymru hefyd, wrth gwrs, ydi’r unig ran o’r Deyrnas heb ei phapurau punt ei hun.  Mae yna rym symbolaidd i hyn.  O’r pedair gwlad, Cymru fethodd fwyaf i adeiladau dosbarth busnes cynhenid a’r isadeiledd sefydliadol sydd ei angen ar ei gyfer.   Rhyw anachronistiaeth efallai ydi’r ffaith bod banciau ein cefndryd Celtaidd yn medru argraffu eu harian eu hunain.  Hong Kong ydi’r unig fan arall yn y byd sydd yn caniatau banciau preifat i wneud hynny.  Ond mae yna golled ariannol fan hyn hefyd.  Mae banciau fel y Clydesdale yn yr Alban neu’r Ulster Bank yng Ngogledd Iwerddon yn gwneud elw ar sail y punnoedd maen nhw yn cynhyrchu – seigniorage gwerth tua £65 miliwn y flwyddyn yn achos yr Alban, yn ol y Trysorlys.

Ond yng Nghymru Banc Lloegr sydd a’r monopoli byth oddi ar i’r North and South Wales Bank gael ei lyncu gan y Midland union gan mlynedd cynt (wedi ei lyncu ei hun gan HSBC sydd yn cynnyrchu eu harian eu hunain, ysywaeth, dim ond yn Hong Kong).  Mae gennym y Royal Mint, wrth gwrs, sydd yn cynhyrchu elw seigniorage ei hun o dros £100 miliwn y flwyddyn.  Ond y  Trysorlys biau yr elw hwn yn anffodus.

Fel datganiad symbolaidd o hyder cenedlaethol, hwb i’r sector twristiaeth a fel marchnata rhyngwladol rhad, pam ddim mynnu bod Banc Lloegr yn cynhyrchu fersiynau dwyieithog o’i papurau pump, deg, ugain, a pham ddim, pump deg punt?  Mae nhw wedi ei ddynodi, wedi’r cwbl, yn gorff cyhoeddus o dan y Ddeddf Iaith.  A pham ddim nawr ychwangeu y banciau gwladoledig at y rhestr – ond ydyn nhw nawr yn rhan o’r sector cyhoeddus?   Yn yr economi real mae’r gwir angen am bresenoldeb bancio Cymreig: banc buddsoddi go iawn, nid cysgod-fanc Cyllid Cymru - a Banc y Bobl wedi ei greu gan y Llywodraeth Gymreig o weddillion yr Halifax a’r Rock.

3 Responses to “Colofn Golwg: Galw am arian papur dwyieithog: Calling for bilingual bank notes”

  1. Huw Jones says:
    October 29th, 2008 at 10:48 am

    I am sorry to hear of your recent troubles. Thanks for the currency blog. Its a great idea. Hope this cheers you up.

    There have been Welsh currencies.

    The princes of Deheubarth required Tribute to be paid by White Cattle and the Laws of Hywel Dda contained fines to be paid in White Cattle.

    More recently in October 1814 the Aberwystwyth and Tregaron Bank issued their Black Sheep notes. There is an image of an Aber and Tregaron two pound note (of October 1814) at the Gathering the Jewels of Wales website at:

    There is also the wonderful story of the mischevious Richard Hugh Williams of Llandudno and his Prif Trysfora Cymru Limited and Cwmni y Ddafod Ddu Gymraeg Cyfyngedig.

    Time for some to set up a White Cattle Black Sheep Bank of Wales. Anyone interested?


    Huw Jones

  2. dilwyn says:
    October 30th, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Pam ddim Banc Cymru? fel genym nhw yng Ngogledd Iwerddon a’r Alban….
    a hwnw yn yr iaith Gymraeg a Saesneg….
    allwn wneud deiseb ar wefan Cynulliad Cymru i weld faint o pobl sydd yn cwylio am gael banc Cymru

  3. Huw Jones says:
    October 31st, 2008 at 11:21 am

    There should be Welsh banks. Certainly many cashiers speak Welsh to customers in ‘English’ banks in the north and I’ve not heard of any Thomas Cook scenarios, but its not the same as having Welsh banks.

    There is a longer tradition of Welsh issuing banks.

    David Jones founded a Bank in Llandovery in 1799 popularly known as Banc Yr Eidon Du which issued its Black Ox notes used by drovers. Apparently in an earlier banking crisis, in the (19 which saw the demise of some 70 private banks in England and Wales, David Jones’ bank prospered and there was more local confidence in it than in the Bank of England.

    The last Welsh issuing bank, save of course from Richard William’s fantastic venture, was the Noth and South Wales Bank, which last issued in 1908.

    The last private bank to issue in England was in 1921, but of course as we know the right and practice to private issue continues in Northern Ireland and Scotland.


    Huw Jones

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