“A society like the British Empire lends itself very ill to precise definitions.” (Hansard, Nov. 9,1950)

Abstract

“A society like the British Empire lends itself very ill to precise definitions.” (Hansard, Nov. 9,1950)

THE MONETARY SYSTEMS of the British colonial territories and their unification under the Colonial Sterling Exchange Standard cannot be fully understood except in the light of their long and complex history and of British constitutional law and history. Since a sketch of their evolution has been given elsewhere,1 this paper is concerned mainly with their present position. Some minor differences of form and of substance which still survive will be ignored, and only major principles and practices will be discussed in full. Local legal and historical details are given, territory by territory, in Appendix I.2

Money and coinage have been immemorial prerogatives of State everywhere—in the British case, a prerogative of the King. In the colonial territories, whether originally settled by the British or acquired by war or treaty, the Governor as the King’s representative was, and is, the guardian of the royal prerogatives. The colonies, for example, had, and have, no power to set up a mint by themselves. Today, the royal prerogative in money takes the form, in territories having their own legislatures, of “reserved powers”—that is, the Governor, if presented with a bill or other proposed legislation touching on currency, will with hold his assent until the King, or rather the King in Council, signifies assent. In other territories, the Governor has direct power over currency by proclamation. Constitutionally, the Colonies are, in currency matters, ultimately under the control of the home Government, more particularly under the Secretary of State for the Colonies.3 The position in the Dominions is quite different. A Dominion has full power of legislation over its own currency by the Act which establishes it as a Dominion, and in a Dominion the King in Council is, in fact, the King acting on the advice of the local independent Cabinet.4 The special case of Southern Rhodesia is examined below.

Legislation on currency matters in the colonial territories has taken, and continues to take, many forms. But in one way or another, Currency Boards have been set up in the various territories and, however dissimilar they are in form and in name, they all act substantially in the same way. In Hong Kong, however, a complex of government departments and local commercial banks operates as if it were a formal Currency Board. But except in a few minor and anomalous cases,5 there is a local Currency Board or Currency Authority for each colonial area. The Boards are usually situated in the area in which the currency is to circulate, and they use the Crown Agents for the Colonies to transact their London business for them.6 The East and West African Currency Boards are exceptions. They are situated in London and act directly and not through the Crown Agents, although linked with them.

In certain areas, however, it has been found convenient to group some territories together for currency purposes. The West African Currency Board was established in 1912 to cover the territories of Gambia, the Gold Coast, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. The East African Currency Board on its establishment in 1919 covered Kenya, Tanganyika, and Uganda; and it was extended in 1936 to cover Zanzibar, and in 1951 to cover Aden and British Somaliland. The Southern Rhodesia Currency Board, established in 1939, also covers the territories of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. In 1951, a Board of Commissioners of Currency, British Caribbean Territories (Eastern Group), was established to cover Barbados, British Guiana, the Leeward Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Windward Islands. Proposals are reported as well-advanced for a Currency Board which will serve all the British territories in South East Asia, probably as an extension of the Board of Commissioners of Currency in Malaya, itself an amalgamation in 1938 for the Straits Settlements and the Malay States. The new Board is intended to cover the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, North Borneo, and Sarawak.

The issues of all local Boards are linked with sterling under the Colonial Sterling Exchange Standard, except those of Tonga which are linked with the Australian pound. If historical relics, mostly U.K. silver coins, are ignored, the issues (notes and coin) of the local Currency Boards and of the Hong Kong complex of institutions are the sole legal tender in their own areas.

Convertibility of Colonial Currencies

The rates of exchange between a colonial currency and sterling, and the right of converting the one into the other, are determined by law in most cases, but there are some exceptions in which, however, various administrative instructions or regulations have the same effect as formal law.7 In those West Indian Islands which, like Jamaica in 1839, adopted the currency of the United Kingdom as their own currency, questions of parity and convertibility did not arise. The Acts merely fixed the rates at which old contracts expressed in local units should be discharged in sterling units. In the other Islands, where the old Spanish silver dollar was maintained as the monetary unit, its value in sterling was fixed by proclamation in 1838 as 4s. 2d., and the evolution of that dollar into the modern British West Indian dollar did not affect its valuation in sterling. This valuation has been confirmed in the various local legislation which has set up the new unified Currency Board for the Eastern Group of Islands. Local acts or local proclamations in British Honduras, Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Malta, Mauritius, Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, and Seychelles have similarly determined monetary units, parities, and convertibility. In all the foregoing cases, sterling is convertible into local currencies, and vice versa, at the statutory rates, subject only to a small commission which can be varied within narrow statutory limits by means of regulations. In Singapore and Malaya, including Brunei, and, in practice, North Borneo and Sarawak, sterling and local currencies are mutually convertible within a small range of exchange rates fixed or regulated by law. In Fiji, where the currency was originally at par with sterling, a new rate of £F111=£100 was adopted in the 1930’s and was reaffirmed by local law in 1948. Though Fiji notes are convertible at this rate without limit, the authorities are under no legal obligation to convert sterling into Fiji notes. In Hong Kong there are no statutory provisions governing rates or conversion; there have been government announcements and bank agreements, but that is all. These three cases have special historical explanations.8 Again, in East and West Africa, there seem to be no statutory obligations about rates and double convertibility. The proclamations concern themselves with the physical nature of the coins, not with their sterling or other value. Regulations made by the Secretary of State for the Colonies prescribe parity and double convertibility at 20s. to the £, but these regulations, although they bind the Boards—which is the practical point—are in a way executive rather than legislative in nature. Moreover, where the United Kingdom has announced par values under the Fund Agreement (and it has done so in the anomalous cases mentioned), there are of course legally fixed and binding rates of exchange. And everywhere there is in practice unlimited convertibility of sterling into local currencies and of local currencies into sterling at publicly fixed rates of exchange.

The local Currency Boards are, therefore, merely automatic moneychangers: they issue legal tender locally on demand against deposits of sterling in London, they hold this sterling in cash or sterling securities, and they pay it out again on demand against local coin or notes paid in. They have no discretion in the matter. Constitutionally, the rate of exchange is fixed in London by the central authorities. The quantity of money in circulation can be increased only by depositing an equivalent increase in sterling in London; it can be decreased only by an equivalent redemption in sterling in London. The colonial authorities can have no independent monetary policy. And as the legal tender basis is fixed in this way, it also follows that, strictly, the local banks can have no independent credit policy, if needed, outside narrow limits determined by their own “sound” banking practices, e.g., by small variations in their cash ratios or by effecting economies in the use of cash. This is particularly true where local production is mainly on a full cash basis, but is more qualified where the banks have some, though limited, local investment opportunities. Nor can the public do very much, for example, by varying the velocity of circulation. The changes of cash and credit in a colonial territory are primarily functions of the changes in its balance of payments. The more favorable its balance, the more sterling it can deposit in London and the greater will be its quantity of local cash; the more adverse its balance, the more it must reduce its quantity of local cash to obtain the sterling in London needed to meet the adverse balance. When the export sales of a Colony are high, the local income tends to be high and the public may wish to add to its cash holdings, i.e., to increase the quantity of currency. When exports and income are low, it may wish to run down cash holdings, i.e., to reduce the quantity of currency. When, as during the war, income was increased by increased quantities of exports at higher prices and by, e.g., local military expenditure, and when spending was kept down by, e.g., import restrictions and shortages of supplies, colonial holdings of cash rose willy-nilly and the older freedom of choice disappeared. As a consequence, there was a great increase in colonial “sterling balances,” 9 which still continues.

Banks in the Colonial Sterling Area

In almost all cases, only the banks have dealings with the local Currency Boards.10 The banks’ charges for exchange are not legally fixed and consequently, in theory, these rates might deviate from the fixed rates, if the banks should act monopolistically. In practice, the commission levied by the Currency Board, or the range within which it operates, closely determines the actual rate of exchange. In Malaya, where there is considerable banking competition, the banks, by various off-settings in their own operations, often quote finer rates than the minimum and maximum rates of the Currency Board.

The position of the banking system within the currency systems is fairly simple in principle but varies in detail from territory to territory. As the ultimate legal liability of a bank is to redeem its deposits on demand in the local legal tender, it must keep its ultimate reserves and general assets in a place and in a form where they are easily encashable into local legal tender. This means London and sterling securities marketable there. When a bank needs local legal tender, it draws on its sterling cash or sells its sterling securities, pays its check over to the Crown Agents or the Currency Boards in London, and the ensuing legal tender is delivered to it in the local territory. A large proportion of colonial bank deposits are in fact “redeposited” in London by the banks in the form of London cash and sterling securities; in short, they become part of colonial “sterling balances.” Because of the economic structure of many territories, the banks may, in fact, have little or no appropriate outlet for their funds in local investment.

The main characteristic of the West African territories is a large peasant population in a subsistence stage of economy and producing cash crops under individual conditions and land tenures which preclude bank advances. At the same time, the large export firms are sufficiently well established to obtain in London any advances they may need. Thus in the West African and similar territories, the main function of a bank is to be a custodian of cash and not a local provider of short-term capital. There are more possibilities of the latter in East Africa, where the economy is more diversified and is based partly on European plantations and secondary industries. But even there the general absence of suitable local banking opportunities for investments and advances leads to the use of funds in London rather than locally. In the West Indies, however, bank advances by way of “crop liens” are very common, and the whole economic structure permits more easily of the banking practices normal to advanced communities. In the Eastern territories, such as Malaya and Hong Kong, banking is highly developed in all respects. But in general, either because of the need of access to legal tender in London or the absence of suitable local investment outlets and local capital money markets, the colonial banks hold a high proportion of their assets in London. They too are, to some extent, merely automatic money-changers, but on a retail and domestic level, as the Currency Boards are on a wholesale and international level.

These arrangements under the Colonial Sterling Exchange Standard preclude local “currency management” or “central banking” as ordinarily understood. There is no local discretion for there are no local fiduciary issues.11 Very few colonial territories are, for example, in a position to take measures by themselves to resist the effects of recessions on their economies, and the preservation of their balances of payments is not a primary consideration in their economic policies.

Colonial Reserves12

In modern practice the Currency Boards aim at holding assets equal to about 110 per cent of their liabilities. A recent balance sheet of the West African Currency Board may, as an example, be summarized as shown in Table 1.

Table 1.

Balance Sheetof West African Currency Board, June 30, 1950

article image

In general, a cover of 100 per cent is a statutory minimum, but the accounting system is such as to maintain the cover as near 110 per cent as possible. For example, the Currency Boards are, as a rule, debarred from paying any “dividend” to their respective Governments out of the income account until such a cover is reached.

The main proportion of cash to be held and the nature of the investments are also mainly matters of practice rather than of detailed positive enactment. Thus, in West Africa, the regulations, as of September 1949, merely say:

  • The Board may invest its funds in sterling securities of the Government of any part of His Majesty’s dominions or in such other manner as the Secretary of State may approve. The extent to which investments may be made will be left to the discretion of the Board whose duty it will be to hold, subject to any directions which may be received from the Secretary of State, a proportion of its reserves in a liquid form.

Again, but with an important exception, much the same occurs in the 1950 agreement to set up a unified currency in the Eastern Group of the West Indies:

  • The Fund may be invested in sterling securities of or guaranteed by the Government of any part of the British Empire (except the participating Governments) or such other securities as, with the approval of the Secretary of State, may be selected by the Crown Agents: Provided that a proportion of the Fund shall be held in London in liquid form and such proportion may be determined and varied from time to time with the approval of the Secretary of State. The liquid portion of the Fund may be held in cash or on deposit at the Bank of England or in Treasury Bills or may be lent out at call or for short terms in such ways or invested in such readily realizable securities as may be approved by the Secretary of State.

The Bank of England is not always the banker; for example, the old Palestine Currency Board banked at the Westminster Bank; Mauritius has used Martins Bank; the Southern Rhodesia Board uses the Standard Bank; Sarawak, the Chartered Bank; and so on.

The absence of legislative detail in this matter is an old British tradition. It can be traced back to the 1860’s in colonial government note issues, and still further back for other colonial note issues. The Bank Charter Act of 1844 itself, in regulating the Bank of England’s issues, did not prescribe the nature of the securities to be held; likewise with the Acts regulating the Scotch and Irish issues. The cash ratio of British banks was conventional until 1947 when, by an “understanding” with the Bank of England, they agreed to keep it at 8 per cent. But the general practice of Colonial Currency Boards is known: a high authority stated in 1944 that the Secretary of State had ruled that they might invest their funds

  • either in short-dated securities (British Treasury Bills, demand or time deposits with United Kingdom banks, etc.) or in British Government, British Dominion Government, Government of India, British Colonial Government or British Municipal Loans, subject to the proviso that, for greater security no authority shall ever invest in loans issued by its own Government or Governments.13

The actual facts of any case can be found only in the particular Currency Board’s balance sheet. The following statement of investments (in U.K. securities, unless otherwise stated) of the West African Board in 1950 may be given as an example:

article image
article image

In 1948 the Malayan Currency Board held investments of some £25 million scattered over a portfolio of 179 entries. As a further example, the investments of the Jamaican Currency Board may be listed. It will be seen that they include securities of British municipalities as well as securities of the Dominions and other Colonies. Alphabetically they ran as follows in 1948: Australia, Barnsley, Bradford, Bristol, Ceylon, Coventry, Federated Malay States, Fiji, U.K. Funding Loan, Gold Coast, Hull, Kenya, Leeds, U.K. National Defence, U.K. National War Bonds, New South Wales, New Zealand, Nigeria, Northern Rhodesia, U.K. Savings Bonds, South Shields, Sunderland, Trinidad, Uganda, Ulster, and U.K. War Loan. Similar ranges and absence of detailed agreement can be found in the balance sheets of other Boards. The Boards and the Crown Agents use their discretion in picking investments within the general field delimited by the Secretary of State and do not act uniformly.

In general terms, the permanent currency reserves under the Colonial Sterling Exchange Standard may be described as gilt-edged public securities, expressed in a sterling area currency and easily marketable in London.

Southern Rhodesia is a partial exception to all the foregoing. First, it is a self-governing colony and the constitutional authority in London is the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and not the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Second, and of more direct importance, by a local Act of 1947 the Southern Rhodesia Currency Board must, if required by any one of the three Governments for which it acts (Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland), invest not more than a total of 20 per cent of its Currency Fund in local registered government stocks. The allocation of the maximum percentage allowed is Southern Rhodesia 10 per cent, Northern Rhodesia 7 per cent, and Nyasaland 3 per cent. Within the total 20 per cent, the proportion of local stocks to be held by the Board may be varied between the Governments concerned. Theoretically, therefore, Southern Rhodesia, which has a local capital market, could develop a local fiduciary issue backed by local securities issuable at local discretion and not just a normal dependent colonial issue backed, pound for pound, by sterling in London. There was, in a way, an historical origin for some of this, namely, that the Board on its formation in 1939 took over certain existing assets and liabilities established under older laws, and these assets included some Southern Rhodesian securities—in 1940, about £150,000 out of total securities of £1,275,000. But the Act of 1947 was obviously intended as a change of policy. The Board still held the same £150,000 of Southern Rhodesian securities in 1946 when its total securities amounted to £5,735,000. Its balance sheet for 1951, however, shows a holding of £500,000 in Southern Rhodesian securities out of a total of almost £11,000,000. The others are U.K. securities. In short, Southern Rhodesia has taken one step along the road to Dominion status in currency matters. Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, however, are still subject to the authority of the Secretary of State for the Colonies in matters of local investment and, as shown above, there has in fact been no investment of the currency funds in their securities.

The formal prohibition of investment in a territory’s own local securities does not appear in the regulations governing the East and West African Currency Boards, but in practice neither of the Boards invests in the local securities. If, however, these territories were to develop local capital markets, and if the Secretary of State consented, they too might develop local fiduciary issues, without a pound for pound backing in London. There would remain, of course, the important difference that discretion would be retained in London whereas, within the Southern Rhodesian group, it has been given to the Southern Rhodesian Government itself in respect of its own securities.

Profits and Accounts

The profits of the Currency Boards are a source of income for their own Governments and not for the U.K. Government. The coins of the colonies are usually minted at the Royal Mint and the currency notes printed in London on the usual commercial terms. Against these and other “costs of production,” a Currency Board has an income of dividends and interest on its investments. Thus, as an example, the cost of manufacturing the West African currency in 1950 was £290,000; freight was £36,000; and other items, some £10,000—a total of £336,000. Administrative expenses here, as elsewhere under the Colonial Sterling Exchange Standard, were very small. The income from dividends and interest was about £1,730,000 and from other items £11,000—total £1,741,000. The “profit” was £1,405,000, and £400,000 was appropriated by the Board to the Governments of Gambia, the Gold Coast, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, the balance of £1,005,000 being added to the Currency Reserve Fund. Since its inception in 1912, the Board has appropriated £7,900,000 to its Governments. And so on, up and down the colonial territories. The income from currency profits is sometimes an important item in colonial revenues.14

As a general rule, no appropriation or “dividend” can be made to the local Government until what may be called the capital account of the Currency Board—the assets it holds against its liabilities in the form of its notes and coin—equals 110 per cent of the face value of the currency in circulation. For it is the aim of most Currency Boards to build up such a currency Capital Fund sufficient to cover the full face value of the currency plus a margin to provide for contingencies, such as depreciation of the securities held as assets. This margin for most colonial territories is placed, in Currency Ordinances, at 10 per cent. It may take a little time to achieve this aim fully in the case of a new currency, such as Malta’s which was begun only in 1949; or, though for abnormal historical reasons, a rather long time, as in the case of East Africa. The cover provisions were upset in Hong Kong when the Japanese issued Hong Kong notes without any cover. But the principle is clear and well established.

In the general tidying-up of colonial currencies in the 1930’s,15 the currency accountancy was also overhauled, though there are still some exceptions, e.g., the Falkland Islands. An old “one account” system, in which certain currency authorities transacted their business through one currency fund run in conjunction with the ordinary revenue and expenditure accounts of their colonies, has been replaced, as opportunities occurred, by a system of separate (capital) Currency Funds and Income Accounts. Practice and legislation still vary a little and nomenclature varies even more, but in the majority of the colonial territories the aim of an extra cover as above is achieved, or is being achieved, by an annual transfer to the Currency Fund from the Income Account of an amount equal to 1 per cent of the value of the Fund. After making this appropriation and meeting current expenses, the surplus balance of the Income Account is usually transferred each year to the ordinary revenues of the colony. In turn, the ordinary revenues of the colony are pledged to make good any annual deficit in the Income Account, and this of course implies that over a sufficient period the colonial revenues would be obliged to make up, not only any short-fall below full cover in the currency backing, but also the margin in cover up to 10 per cent. In special circumstances, special steps may be taken; for example, in the East African case, the local Governments undertook some of the contingent liabilities implied in the old balance sheets, and in British Honduras in 1950 (and also earlier) the U.K. Government gave a special grant to make good losses of the Currency Commissions. Quite exceptional circumstances apart, the colonial currencies are a source of profit to their Governments, and all are more than fully covered at their face value.

APPENDIX I: Synopsis of U.K. Colonial Currencies

The dates below indicate the first major British connection, but not necessarily colonization, annexation, etc.

Aden Colony (1839)

  • Unit: East African shilling.

  • Legal tender: East African Currency Board coins and notes (Shs. 5, Shs. 10, Shs. 20, Shs. 100, Shs. 1,000, Shs. 10,000).

  • Other media: Indian rupees and other Indian coins and notes.

  • General notes:

    • i. Aden ceased to be part of British India and became a Colony in 1937.

    • ii. The East African shilling and the Colonial Sterling Exchange Standard were adopted in 1951, the E.A. shilling replacing the Indian rupee.

    • iii. Banks: National Bank of India, Messrs. Cowasjee Dinshaw, and the Eastern Bank.

Aden Protectorates (various dates)

  • Currencies: East African shilling (now the legal tender), Indian rupees, Maria Theresa dollars, some local coins, and many other coins, both ancient and modern.

  • General notes:

    • i. There are some differences in customary usages between the Western and Eastern Protectorates, but the area is not far advanced toward a money economy.

    • ii. Banks: None.

Bahamas (1629)

  • Unit: £ s. d.

  • Legal tender: U.K. coins and Bahama Government notes (4/-, 10/-, £1, £5).

  • Other media: U.S. currency.

  • General notes:

    • i. Sterling £ s. d. units replaced ancient local £ s. d. units in 1838.

    • ii. U.K. silver coins limited to 40/- in legal tender 1936, previously unlimited tender.

    • iii. U.S. gold and silver coins ceased to be legal tender in 1911 and subdivisions of the ancient doubloon ceased in 1935. Current dollars must be surrendered.

    • iv. Bank of England notes ceased to be accepted as legal tender in 1947, probably as a consequence of the import and export prohibitions of the Exchange Control Act 1947.

    • v. Public and mercantile accounts kept in £ s. d.

    • vi. Local currency notes issued through the agency of the Royal Bank of Canada.

    • vii. Banks: Royal Bank of Canada and Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas).

    • viii. Bahamas has not joined the British Caribbean unified currency system.

Barbados (1625)

  • Unit: British West Indian dollar.

  • Legal tender: U.K. coins, coins and notes of the Board of Commissioners, British Caribbean Territories, Barbados Government notes, and British Guiana and Trinidad Government notes.

  • Other media: Bank notes of Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas), Canadian Bank of Commerce, and Royal Bank of Canada.

  • General notes:

    • i. Sterling £ s. d. units replaced ancient local £ s. d. units in 1848 but the £ sterling was, from 1949, in turn replaced by the West Indian dollar.

    • ii. U.K. silver coins limited to 40/- in legal tender in 1947.

    • iii. See Bahamas, General note (iii) and (iv), the U.S. reference being 1935.

    • iv. Public accounts were kept in £ s. d. units until 1949; mercantile accounts have long been kept in B.W.I. dollars and cents.

    • v. During the war, the Governments of Barbados, British Guiana, and Trinidad made each other’s notes legal tender partly because of difficulties in physical supply.

    • vi. Banks: Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas), Canadian Bank of Commerce, and Royal Bank of Canada.

    • vii. Barbados has joined the British Caribbean unified currency system. For details, see Appendix II. Other coins and notes will be withdrawn as circumstances permit.

Basutoland (1868)

  • Unit: South African £ s. d.

  • General notes:

    • i. Under a proclamation of 1933, South African currency was made the currency of Basutoland.

    • ii. Banks: Standard Bank of South Africa.

    • iii. Basutoland is an African Territory without European settlers or landowners and is governed under the system of “indirect rule” by a Resident Commissioner under the High Commissioner for Basutoland, the Bechuanaland Protectorate, and Swaziland.

Bechuanaland Protectorate (1885)

  • Unit: South African £ s. d.

  • General notes:

    • i. Until 1932, the legal tender was U.K. and Transvaal coins, and then U.K. coins (except silver) and South African coins. For a year, South African Reserve Bank notes were a conditional legal tender but in 1933 they became full legal tender. In the Northern Protectorate, Southern Rhodesia currency circulates at par.

    • ii. See Basutoland, General note (iii).

    • iii. Banks: None.

Bermuda (1609)

  • Unit: £ s. d.

  • Legal tender: U.K. coins and Bermuda Government notes (5/-, 10/-, £1, £5).

  • Other media: U.S. currency.

  • General notes:

    • i. Sterling £ s. d. units replaced ancient local £ s. d. units in 1841.

    • ii. U.K. silver coins limited to 40/- in legal tender in 1947.

    • iii. See Bahamas, General note (iii) and (iv), the U.S. reference being 1935.

    • iv. Public and private accounts kept in £ s. d.

    • v. Banks: Bank of Bermuda and Messrs. Butterfield.

    • vi. Bermuda has not joined the British Caribbean unified currency system.

British Guiana (1814)

  • Unit: British West Indian dollar.

  • Legal tender: U.K. coins, local groat (4d.), coins and notes of the Board of Commissioners, British Caribbean Territories, British Guiana Government notes, and Barbados and Trinidad Government notes.

  • Other media: Bank notes of Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas) and Royal Bank of Canada.

  • General notes:

    • i. The ancient units were the Dutch guilder and its subdivisions; later there were added gold doubloons, U.K. shillings, and Spanish and Spanish-American silver dollars. These silver dollars were established, 1838-40, and later became the predecessors of the modern British West Indian dollar, £ s. d. units of account never having been accepted by the local legislature. The groat, unique in the British Commonwealth, is a popular current coin and is an historic relic of the 17th Century Dutch guilder. It will be abolished under (v) below.

    • ii. Silver coins limited to 40/- in legal tender in 1938.

    • iii. See General notes for Bahamas (iii) and Barbados (v), the U.S. reference being 1935.

    • iv. Banks: Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas) and Royal Bank of Canada.

    • v. British Guiana has joined the British Caribbean unified currency system. For details, see Appendix II. Other coins and notes will be withdrawn as circumstances permit.

British Honduras (1638)

  • Unit: British Honduras dollar.

  • Legal tender: Local coins and British Honduras Government notes ($1, $2, $5, $10).

  • General notes:

    • i. Mahogany rated in £ s. d. was the main money until the 19th century, when Jamaican currency was adopted; a local dollar prevailed, 1855-87, Latin American dollars, 1887-94, and the U.S. gold dollar, 1894-1949. In 1949 the British Honduras dollar was linked with sterling.

    • ii. Banks: Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas) and Royal Bank of Canada.

    • iii. British Honduras has not joined the British Caribbean unified currency system.

British Solomon Islands Protectorate (1893)

  • Unit: Australian £ s. d.

  • Legal tender: U.K. coins and Australian coins and notes.

  • General notes:

    • i. The Southern Solomon Islands became a British Protectorate in 1893.

    • ii. Before the monetary disturbances of the 1930’s, the coin in circulation was both U.K. and Australian with, presumably, normal legal tender. There was also a small local note issue. In the 1930’s the Australian currency was adopted as the basis and it is now the effective currency. Public accounts are kept in Australian pounds. Compare Fiji, General note (iii).

    • iii. Banks: None.

Brunei (1888)

  • Unit: Malayan dollar.

  • Legal tender: Malayan Currency Commission coins and notes (5¢ and up).

  • General notes:

    • i. The Sultanate State of Brunei entered into treaty relations with the United Kingdom in 1888.

    • ii. Banks: Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.

Cyprus (1878)

  • Unit: £ and piastre (180 piastres to £).

  • Legal tender: Local coins, certain 2/- and 1/- pieces, and Cyprus Government notes (3 piastres, 1/-, 2/-, 5/-, 10/-, £1, £5).

  • General notes:

    • i. This ancient island with a chequered history passed over to British administration and occupation in 1878, was formally annexed in 1914, and was made a Colony in 1925.

    • ii. A British basis for the complicated Turkish and other coins was finally established in 1882. British silver was withdrawn in 1901. The full Colonial Sterling Exchange Standard was adopted in 1928.

    • iii. Banks: Ottoman Bank, Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas), Bank of Athens, Ionian Bank, Bank of Cyprus, Turkish Bank of Nicosia, Banque Populaire de Limassol, and Banque Populaire de Paphos.

Falkland Islands and Dependencies (1765)

  • Unit: £ s. d.

  • Legal tender: U.K. coins and Falkland Government notes (10/-, £1, £5).

  • General notes:

    • i. Since 1833 there has been continuous British occupation of the Islands.

    • ii. Banks: None, but remittances are available through the Currency Commissioners and the Crown Agents for the Colonies, the Falkland Islands Co., and the Estate Louis Williams.

Fiji (1874)

  • Unit: Fiji £ s. d.

  • Legal tender: Local coins and Fiji Government notes (5/-, 10/-, £1, £5, £10, £20).

  • General notes:

    • i. Sovereignty was locally ceded to the United Kingdom in 1874.

    • ii. A British basis for Fiji’s mixed currency was finally established in 1881-82. Local notes began in 1913.

    • iii. Until the 1930’s, the legal tender was U.K. coins only and the local Government note issue was on a semi-bullion standard, secured by gold and sterling securities, and legally redeemable only in gold. But export of gold was suspended in World War I, and the notes, though secured more than 100 per cent, were for practical purposes irredeemable. It would seem that Fiji’s special legal position was overlooked in various ways in the 1920’s. The rate of exchange in the early 1930’s was determined commercially by the Australian and New Zealand banks, with further complications when Australia and New Zealand devalued against sterling. Then in 1933-34, the Fiji Government set up a Fiji £ (£F111=£100 sterling) with its own currency notes and coins on the usual Colonial Sterling Exchange Standard. In 1948, when New Zealand reverted to sterling parity and when there was speculation whether Fiji would follow suit, the usual mandatory proviso of the Colonial Sterling Exchange Standard requiring the Currency Commissioners to issue local notes against sterling in London was made permissive. That is, Fiji notes must still be converted into sterling but sterling is not necessarily convertible into Fiji notes. By free vote, the Legislative Council voted the maintenance of the £F111=£100 sterling as parity in November 1948.

    • iv. Banks: Bank of New South Wales and Bank of New Zealand.

Gambia and Protectorate (1662)

  • Unit: £ s. d.

  • Legal tender: British West African coins and notes (10/-, £1).

  • Other media: In the Protectorate, notes of the Banque d’Afrique Occidentale.

  • General notes:

    • i. The early settlement was part of the British Colony of Senegambia 1765-83, of Sierra Leone 1821-43, then a Colony by itself, again a part of Sierra Leone 1866-88, and since then a Colony by itself; Protectorate affairs were finally settled in 1902; general international delimitation of boundaries, 1889.

    • ii. £ s. d. units of account were established early in the 19th century; trade was mostly barter until the 1890’s; but as late as 1912 there were many legal tender media, e.g., U.K. coins, certain French, Spanish, and U.S. gold coins, also general Latin Monetary Union coins. The five-franc piece was finally demonetized only in 1921.

    • iii. The modern Colonial Sterling Exchange Standard was adopted for British West Africa, including Gambia, in 1912. U.K. coins have since been in process of withdrawal, now largely complete. Local silver coins have unlimited legal tender. Legal tender of U.K. silver was terminated only in 1938.

    • iv. Banks: Bank of British West Africa.

Gibraltar (1704)

  • Unit: £ s. d.

  • Legal tender: U.K. coins and Gibraltar Government notes (10/-, £1, £5).

  • Other media: See General note (ii).

  • General notes:

    • i. Gibraltar early evolved its own local unit of account, with complications from its Spanish background; sterling £ s. d. units were attempted in 1825 and were used in public accounts until 1881, but other units were maintained by merchants and the public; Spanish currency, with bimetallic complications from the Latin Monetary Union, was the legal standard from 1878 to 1898, when sterling was finally adopted.

    • ii. British notes were in use as a medium without legal tender until World War II when their circulation was banned; until at least 1936, Spanish peseta notes—though not legal tender in Gibraltar and, depending on circumstances, possibly not legal tender in Spain—were in regular use. For details, see Pyrmont v. Schott (1937) 4 All E. R. at 713.

    • iii. Banks: Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas), Crédit Foncier d’Algérie et de Tunisie, and Galliano’s Bank.

Gilbert and Ellice Islands (1892)

  • Unit: Australian £ s. d.

  • Legal tender: U.K. coins and Australian coins and notes.

  • General notes:

    • i. The Gilbert and Ellice Islands became a British Protectorate in 1892 and a Colony in 1915.

    • ii. Public and other accounts are kept in Australian pounds, apparently since 1937 after the monetary disturbances of the 1930’s. Compare Fiji (iii). During the war, U.S. dollars were also used as currency; they were practically all withdrawn by 1948 except on Canton Island, which also uses Canadian dollars. Otherwise the effective currency is Australian.

    • iii. Banks: None.

Gold Coast, Protectorate, and Togoland Trusteeship (1662)

  • Unit: £ s. d.

  • Legal tender: British West African coins and notes (10/-, £1).

  • General notes:

    • i. In this area, which has been under the rule of the Portuguese, the Dutch, the Swedes, the Danes, and the Germans, the Ashanti settlements were annexed to Sierra Leone in 1821; there were wider annexations and separate colonial status in 1850-74 (Danes withdrawing in 1850 and the Dutch in 1872), with final pacification and international delimitation around 1900.

    • ii. See Gambia, General note (ii). Dutch coins and U.K. copper coins were demonetized in 1880, the Africans disliking the taste of copper.

    • iii. See Gambia, General note (iii). There is a strong local preference for the 2/- piece over the shilling, which is the reverse of the preference in Nigeria; the special one-tenth penny minted at a loss for the Gold Coast is acquiring wider popularity in British West Africa, possibly for nonmonetary uses.

    • iv. Banks: Bank of British West Africa and Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas).

Hong Kong (1842)

  • Unit: Hong Kong dollar.

  • Legal tender: Local coins, Hong Kong Government notes ($1), and bank notes of Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, and Mercantile Bank of India. See General note (ii).

  • General notes:

    • i. Sterling units and coins, including gold, were attempted in 1844-54, then abandoned in favor of the Mexican silver dollar (as successor to the ancient Spanish silver dollar) from 1854 to 1864, when the British Hong Kong silver trade dollar replaced it as the monetary standard, with bank notes, however, preferred in circulation; the silver standard was abandoned, as in China, in 1935.

    • ii. On the abandonment of the silver standard, a special and modified form of Colonial Sterling Exchange Standard was inaugurated in 1935 and re-established on liberation in 1945. Government one-dollar notes and also the bank notes, as above, have unlimited tender; the banks surrendered old silver backing to the Government Exchange Fund which sold the silver for sterling and in exchange issued Certificates of Indebtedness to banks. There is no statutory obligation to redeem these Certificates at any fixed rate of exchange. There is, however, a quasi-formal agreement with the banks under which the Exchange Fund, in effect, buys and sells sterling from them at agreed rates and the banks, in turn, agree to keep their buying and selling rates with the public within agreed limits. While the public has no direct access to the Exchange Fund, it is thus assured of the convertibility of notes into and out of sterling within a determined and narrowly limited range of rates. The system, though different in outward form, works in practice like the Colonial Sterling Exchange Standard elsewhere, since the rate of exchange is maintained, at present, just as firmly as if it were fixed by law.

    • iii. The notes have a wide circulation in China and elsewhere outside the Colony.

    • iv. Banks: The facilities are numerous; for example, in addition to the three note-issuing banks, there are 22 incorporated banks authorized to deal in foreign exchange. There are also about 120 other banking or remittance firms.

Jamaica and Dependencies (1655)

  • Unit: £ s. d.

  • Legal tender: U.K. coins (with limited tender for smaller silver), local coins, Jamaican Government notes (5/-, 10/-, £1, £5), and bank notes of Bank of Nova Scotia, Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas), Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Bank of Commerce.

  • Other media: In Turks and Caicos Islands and in Cayman Islands, Bank of England and other notes; see General note (iii).

  • General notes:

    • i. Sterling £ s. d. units replaced ancient local £ s. d. units in 1839.

    • ii. In 1841 certain limits were put in Jamaica on smaller U.K. silver coins, but in the Cayman Islands there seems to have been a general limit of 40/-, which limit was extended to Jamaica only in 1939.

    • iii. Bank of England notes ceased to be legal tender in Jamaica in 1933, but as late as 1946 they were in circulation in the Dependencies. See also Bahamas, General note (iv).

    • iv. See Bahamas, General note (iii), the U.S. reference being 1935.

    • v. Public and mercantile accounts are kept in sterling.

    • vi. Banks: Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas), Bank of Nova Scotia, Royal Bank of Canada, and Canadian Bank of Commerce.

    • vii. Jamaica has not joined the British Caribbean unified currency system but the suggestion has been made that it should add B.W.I, denominational values to its sterling notes.

Kenya and Protectorate (1876)

  • Unit: East African shilling.

  • Legal tender: East African Currency Board coins and notes (Shs. 5, Shs. 10, Shs. 20, Shs. 100, Shs. 1,000, Shs. 10,000).

  • General notes:

    • i. The territory was originally under the Chartered Company of British East Africa (1876), was proclaimed a Protectorate in 1890, was under the Foreign Office from 1895 to 1905, and thereafter under the Colonial Office; all foreign consular jurisdictions were transferred in 1908 to British courts; various international delimitations of boundaries, 1890-1947.

    • ii. Originally, the Indian silver rupee was the most customary medium and was made legal tender under British rule until 1919 when its fluctuating value, following silver prices, led to its replacement by the E.A. shilling, which involved difficult redemption problems.

    • iii. In 1919 the East African Currency Board was set up under the Colonial Sterling Exchange Standard and, amid many difficulties, this Board finally reached (and passed) a 100 per cent cover for its issues in 1946.

    • iv. East African currency was, during the war, used in Ethiopia and Italian territories. For details, including redemptions, see Lord Rennell’s British Military Administration in Africa (London, 1948), Chapter XV, and International Monetary Fund, Balance of Payments Yearbook, section on Ethiopia.

    • v. Banks: Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas), Standard Bank of South Africa, Exchange Bank of India and Africa, National Bank of India, and Nederlandsche Handel Maatschappij.

Leeward Islands (17th Century)

  • Unit: British West Indian dollar.

  • Legal tender: U.K. coins, coins and notes of the Board of Commissioners, British Caribbean Territories, and Trinidad Government notes.

  • Other media: Some U.K. gold coins (see General note (iii) below) and, in the Virgin Islands, U.S. currency; also bank notes of Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas) and Royal Bank of Canada.

  • General notes:

    • i. Sterling £ s. d. units replaced ancient local £ s. d. units as follows: Antigua 1847; St. Kitts 1849; Virgin Islands 1852, where, however, Danish coins predominated until at least the 1890’s and where U.S. currency now circulates since the U.S. purchase of the adjacent Danish islands; Nevis 1858; Montserrat 1864. The Leeward Islands adopted the the British West Indian dollar as the unit of account in 1948.

    • ii. Although, until 1948, government accounts were kept in sterling, mercantile accounts have long been kept in B.W.I. dollars.

    • iii. See Bahamas, General notes (iii) and (iv), the U.S. reference being 1935. The occasional use of British and U.S. gold coin is recorded in the Colonial Office List for 1950.

    • iv. Banks: Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas) and Royal Bank of Canada (no banking facilities in Virgin Islands).

    • v. Leeward Islands has joined British Caribbean unified currency system. For details, see Appendix II. Other coins and notes will be withdrawn as circumstances permit.

Malaya, Federation of (various dates, from 1786)

  • Unit: Malayan dollar.

  • Legal tender: Local coins and notes of Malayan Currency Commission (small notes being withdrawn, otherwise 50¢, $1, $5, $10, $50, $100, $1,000, $10,000).

  • Other media: Pre-occupation Malayan dollar notes—see General note (iii)—and certain bank notes of the Chartered Bank of India, Australia, and China, and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.

  • General notes:

    • i. The original money media used in this area were varied but were mainly the Spanish silver dollar, the silver rupee, and certain Dutch coins. In 1835 the East India Company and, later, the Government of India sought to impose the rupee but, with the transfer of the (then) Straits Settlements from the Indian Office to the Colonial Office in 1866, the Imperial and Colonial Governments legalized and extended the customary silver dollar and, later (1874), added the U.S. trade dollar and Japanese silver yen—all with unlimited tender. Some British token silver coins were also added. In 1903-06, the silver standard was abandoned for a gold or sterling exchange standard with some special techniques to control the spread of the buying and selling rates. The final transfer to the sterling base took place in 1923.

    • ii. In 1938 the system was extended to other local British territories, and a still wider area is to be embraced under the proposed Malaya-Borneo Currency Commission.

    • iii. On liberation, the Malayan Commission began to withdraw pre-occupation notes and, in 1948, all such notes (some dating back to 1899) were declared not legal tender, though some still circulate and are exchanged as they come in. Most of the old silver coins seem to have been melted down during the war.

    • iv. The Federation of Malaya now comprises nine protected states and two settlements.

    • v. Banks: 15 banking corporations and some 800 other “remittance shops,” especially for Chinese remittances.

Malta (1800)

  • Unit: £ s. d.

  • Legal tender: U.K. coins and Malta Government coins and notes; see General note (ii).

  • General notes:

    • i. Malta’s old currency consisted of coins of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem plus Spanish and Sicilian dollars; as the first two fell out, the Sicilian dollar became predominant around 1844. After some decades of confusion, including the bimetallic difficulties of the Latin Monetary Union (which stripped Malta of coin), U.K. coins and Bank of England notes became predominant and standard around 1886, mostly through naval pay.

    • ii. Late in 1939, when overseas expansion of Bank of England notes was deemed undesirable and was physically difficult, Malta Government notes were issued. The Bank of England notes ceased to be legal tender in 1949 and are being withdrawn from circulation. A new issue of Maltese currency, begun in 1949, is replacing them. On supply difficulties, see Barbados, General note (v) and Seychelles, General note (iv).

    • iii. Banks: National Bank of Malta, Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas), Sciclunas, and Tagliaferro.

Mauritius and Dependencies (1810)

  • Unit: Mauritius rupee and cents.

  • Legal tender: Local coins and Mauritius Government notes.

  • General notes:

    • i. Sterling £ s. d. units legally replaced a varied medley of coins and units in 1825, particularly the Indian rupee, but in practice the rupee held the field until the 1850’s when, affected by the gold discoveries, it gave way to British token silver and local notes expressed in rupees (later in sterling), despite the legal use of sterling units and a customary use of a local Mauritius unit of account. With the change in bimetallic ratios in the 1870’s, the position of the notes became difficult, and finally in 1876 the silver rupee was re-established as the only legal tender, owing to Mauritius’s close links with India. The cents are a decimal inheritance from the French colonization.

    • ii. The Mauritius rupee was established in 1934 and directly linked with sterling, the currents of trade having changed.

    • iii. Banks: Mauritius Commercial Bank, Mercantile Bank of India, and Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas).

New Hebrides (1887)

  • Unit: £ s. d. and French francs.

  • Legal tender: Sterling, Australian currency and French francs. See General note (ii).

  • General notes:

    • i. The New Hebrides group is an Anglo-French Condominium, each Power having sovereignty over its own nationals only, the native population bearing allegiance to neither.

    • ii. In 1935, Australian currency was recognized by both Powers as valid (with exchange, if any) for payments in sterling, and special arrangements were made to deal with the fluctuating rate between sterling and francs. There were further complications during the war until the French Administration joined the Free French movement, one being the inconvertibility of the Bank of Indo-China notes. In 1941 a New Hebrides franc, convertible into Australian currency, was set up. In 1944 when the French franc area was separated from the then sterling area, the New Hebrides, though formerly in the French franc area, was left in the sterling area for certain exchange control purposes. In practice, English currency is not in circulation to any extent today.

Nigeria and Protectorate (19th Century)

  • Unit: £ s. d.

  • Legal tender: British West African coins and notes (10/-, £1).

  • Other media: Manillas, although officially withdrawn in 1949.

  • General notes:

    • i. Final pacification and international delimitation of boundaries, etc., by the early 1900’s.

    • ii. See Gambia, General notes (ii) and (iii) and Gold Coast, General note (iii). Owing to termites, coin is generally preferred to notes in West Africa.

    • iii. Banks: Bank of British West Africa, Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas), National Bank of Nigeria, Agbonmagbe Bank, Nigerian Farmers Bank, and African Continental Bank.

North Borneo (1846)

  • Unit: Straits dollar; see, however, General notes (ii) and (iii).

  • Legal tender: See General notes (ii) and (iii).

  • General notes:

    • i. The territory was governed by the British North Borneo Chartered Company 1881-1942. On liberation, it became, with Labuan, a Crown Colony in 1946.

    • ii. The Company coins and notes were, and are, legal tender. The unit was, and is, the old Straits dollar. But with the war, Malayan currency was introduced and the old currency, though legal tender, is not being reissued but is being redeemed in Malayan currency.

    • iii. North Borneo is likely to join the Malayan Currency Union; see Malaya, General note (ii).

    • iv. Banks: Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation and Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China.

Northern Rhodesia (1889)

  • Unit: £ s. d.

  • Legal tender: Southern Rhodesia Currency Board coins and notes (5/-, 10/-, £1, £5), and also U.K. coins; see General note (ii) below.

  • Other media: East and South African currency; see General note (ii).

  • General notes:

    • i. Originally under the British South Africa Chartered Company, the territory became a Crown Colony in 1924.

    • ii. Until 1931, the only legal tender was U.K. coins, including the sovereign. In practice, gold did not circulate but instead the notes of the Standard Bank of South Africa and of Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas) issued for Southern Rhodesia were used. After the abandonment of the gold standard by the United Kingdom, the legal position of these notes in respect of redemption was obscure, but these notes and Bank of England notes were made legal tender (1934) and parity with sterling was maintained by the banks. In 1939 the Southern Rhodesia Currency Board was set up under the Colonial Sterling Exchange Standard to cover Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, and Southern Rhodesia. U.K. coins are accordingly being withdrawn, and U.K. notes are no longer accepted. There is some circulation of East African notes and coins and South African silver, brought in by migrant labor and exchanged at par and repatriated.

    • iii. Banks: Standard Bank of South Africa and Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas).

Nyasaland Protectorate (1878)

  • Unit: £ s. d.

  • Legal tender: Southern Rhodesia Currency Board coins and notes (5/-, 10/-, £1, £5), and also U.K. coins; see General note (ii)

  • Other media: Bank of England and South African notes; see General note (ii).

  • General notes:

    • i. The territory was declared a Protectorate in 1889.

    • ii. Sterling currency was made legal tender in 1894 and Rhodesian silver coin in 1933. Bank of England notes have never been legal tender in Nyasaland. The legal confusion around 1931, when Britain went off gold, required special legislation to clear it up. Indeed, an act of indemnity was needed to absolve those in charge.

    • iii. See Northern Rhodesia, General note (ii), except for East African reference.

    • iv. Banks: Standard Bank of South Africa and Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas).

St. Helena (1669)

  • Unit: £ s. d.

  • Legal tender: U.K. coins and Bank of England notes.

  • Other media: South African coins and notes.

  • General notes:

    • i. Bank of England notes were made legal tender in 1949 when legal tender was withdrawn from South African silver coins.

    • ii. Banks: No facilities, but the Government issues bills of exchange on England at par.

Sarawak (1839)

  • Unit: Straits dollar; see General note (iii).

  • Legal tender: Currencies of Sarawak, Malaya, and British North Borneo Chartered Company; see General note (ii).

  • General notes:

    • i. The Rajahship of Sarawak (1841) came under British protection in 1888 and became a Crown Colony in 1946.

    • ii. Sarawak issued and used its own currency, covered by giltedged securities in London, but on liberation only Malayan currency was issued. Sarawak currency is being gradually withdrawn. It is thought there is now no Chartered Company money in actual circulation. See also North Borneo, General note (ii).

    • iii. Sarawak is likely to join the Malayan Currency Union; see Malaya, General note (ii).

    • iv. Banks: Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation, and three small Chinese trading banks.

Seychelles (1794) and Dependencies (various dates)

  • Unit: Seychelles rupee and cents.

  • Legal tender: Local coins and Seychelles Government notes (50¢, R1, Rs5, Rs10, Rs50); see also General note (iv).

  • Other media: See General note (iv).

  • General notes:

    • i. From 1794 to 1810 Seychelles, though a British Colony, was administered as if a French Colony, the last French Governor having become the first British Agent Civil. It was then linked with Mauritius, especially in finance, until 1872, but in 1897-1903 it became a separate Colony.

    • ii. Its early currency history is, therefore, that of Mauritius; see Mauritius, General note (i). As its trade, however, was mostly with gold-using countries, the Mauritius reforms after 1876 applied somewhat awkwardly.

    • iii. Mauritius notes ceased to be legal tender in 1934, and Seychelles adopted the direct Colonial Sterling Exchange Standard in 1936.

    • iv. During the war and owing to shortages of Seychelles coins and notes (compare Barbados, General note (v)), notes and coins of Ceylon, Mauritius, India, South Africa, and East Africa, then flowing in, were made legal tender. They have now been withdrawn, but as Seychelles copper coins are still in short supply, those of Mauritius remain legal tender.

    • v. Banks: No banks, but complete banking facilities are afforded by the Government.

Sierra Leone (1788) and Protectorate (various dates)

  • Unit: £ s. d.

  • Legal tender: British West African coins and notes (10/-, £1).

  • General notes:

    • i. The settlement, mainly of the Sierra Leone Company for freed slaves, became a Crown Colony in 1808 with various extension of boundaries until 1896, and final pacification in the Protectorate in 1899. See also Gambia, General note (i).

    • ii. The original Company money, and later other moneys, were very mixed, and U.K. silver entered into concurrent circulation mostly from the 1840’s. The legal currency still remained very mixed until 1912 when the British West African Currency Board was set up under the Colonial Sterling Exchange Standard. U.K. coins are being withdrawn. At times, Bank of England notes have circulated but are not legal tender. See also General notes on Gambia, Gold Coast, and Nigeria.

    • iii. Banks: Bank of British West Africa and Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas).

Singapore (1819) and Dependencies (various dates)

  • Unit: Malayan dollar.

  • Legal tender: Malayan currency; see Malaya, General notes (i-iii).

  • General notes:

    • i. Singapore was long a part of the Straits Settlement Colony, together with Penang, Malacca, and Labuan. Penang and Malacca are now in the Federation of Malaya and Labuan in North Borneo. The inclusion of Singapore in the Federation is envisaged. Meanwhile, from 1946, it has been a Crown Colony.

    • ii. For currency history and present arrangements, see Malaya, General notes (i-iii).

    • iii. Banks: 19 main banking concerns and numerous “remittance shops,” especially for Chinese remittances.

Somaliland Protectorate (1884)

  • Unit: East African shilling.

  • Legal tender: East African Currency Board coins and notes (Shs. 5, Shs. 10, Shs. 20, Shs. 100, Shs. 1,000, Shs. 10,000).

  • Other media: Indian rupees and other Indian coins and notes.

  • General notes:

    • i. Pacification of the dervishes was finally achieved in 1921.

    • ii. The Indian rupee has long been in circulation. The East African currency was introduced during the war by the Military Authorities (see Kenya, General note (iv)). Indian currency is now being gradually replaced by British East African currency (see Aden, General note (ii)). The territory is but little advanced toward a money economy.

    • iii. Banks: No facilities except certain Government ones on Aden, and some by Messrs. Cowasjee Dinshaw.

Southern Rhodesia (1888)

  • Unit: Southern Rhodesian £ s. d.

  • Legal tender: Southern Rhodesia Currency Board coins and notes (5/-, 10/-, £1, £5).

  • Other media: Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas) and Standard Bank notes in process of withdrawal.

  • General notes:

    • i. Southern Rhodesia was originally part of the territories of the British Chartered South Africa Company (1890) until 1923 when it became a self-governing Colony. Its early currency history is therefore partly that of South Africa.

    • ii. In 1939 the Southern Rhodesia Currency Board was set up under the usual Colonial Sterling Exchange Standard to cover Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland. For a discussion of its special powers, see text.

    • iii. Banks: Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas) and Standard Bank of South Africa.

Swaziland (1888)

  • Unit: South African £ s. d.

  • General notes:

    • i. Swaziland passed to British jurisdiction in 1903 and to the High Commissioner in 1907. See Basutoland, General note (iii).

Tanganyika Trusteeship (1920)

  • Unit: East African shilling.

  • Legal tender: East African Currency Board coins and notes (Shs. 5, Shs. 10, Shs. 20, Shs. 100, Shs. 1,000, Shs. 10,000).

  • General notes:

    • i. The German Government and local German Company issued coins of Indian standards, and these circulated with Indian coins until their redemption after the setting up of the East African Currency Board in 1921. See Kenya, General notes (ii) and (iii).

    • ii. Banks: National Bank of India, Standard Bank of South Africa, Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas), and Banque du Congo Beige.

Tonga (1900)

  • Unit: Tongan £ s. d.

  • Legal tender: U.K., Australian, Fiji, and New Zealand coins, and Tongan Government notes (4/-, 10/-, £1, £5).

  • General notes:

    • i. Tonga is a self-governing State under British protection since 1900.

    • ii. The Tongan Parliament adopted British and Australian coinage in 1906, and in 1935 it adopted the exchange standard system with Australia. Compare Fiji, General note (iii).

    • iii. Fiji and New Zealand coinage came into general circulation during the war. All four coinages are accepted at their face value.

    • iv. Banks: No facilities, but the Tongan Treasury remits funds abroad.

Trinidad and Tobago (18th Century)

  • Unit: British West Indian dollar.

  • Legal tender: U.K. coins, coins and notes of the Board of Commissioners, British Caribbean Territories, Trinidad Government notes, and British Guiana and Barbados Government notes.

  • Other media: Bank notes of Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas), Canadian Bank of Commerce, and Royal Bank of Canada.

  • General notes:

    • i. Trinidad and Tobago, along with British Honduras, never adopted £ s. d. units, local or sterling. Their dollar is the descendant of the original Spanish silver dollar. But they did adopt U.K. coins and have used them as exclusive coinage, but see (v) below.

    • ii. U.K. silver coins are unlimited legal tender, but see (v) below.

    • iii. See General notes, Bahamas (iii) and (iv), the U.S. reference being 1935, and Barbados (v).

    • iv. Banks: Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas), Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Bank of Commerce, and Messrs. Gordon, Grant & Co.

    • v. Trinidad and Tobago have joined the British Caribbean unified currency system. For details, see Appendix II. Other coins and notes will be withdrawn as circumstances permit.

Uganda Protectorate (1890)

  • Unit: East African shilling.

  • Legal tender: East African Currency Board coins and notes (Shs. 5, Shs. 10, Shs. 20, Shs. 100, Shs. 1,000, Shs. 10,000).

  • General notes:

    • i. Uganda became a British Protectorate in 1894.

    • ii. See Kenya, General notes (ii) and (iii).

    • iii. Banks: National Bank of India, Standard Bank of South Africa, and Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas).

Windward Islands (18th Century)

  • Unit: British West Indian dollar.

  • Legal tender: U.K. coins, coins and notes of the Board of Commissioners, British Caribbean Territories, and Trinidad Government notes.

  • Other media: Bank notes of Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas) and Royal Bank of Canada.

  • General notes:

    • i. Sterling £ s. d. units replaced the ancient local £ s. d. and L s. d. units as follows: St. Vincent 1839, Grenada 1840, St. Lucia 1841 (St. Lucia’s L s. d. units having been the Livres, sous, and deniers of prerevolutionary France, both the British and French systems having had a common origin in the days of Charlemagne in the 8th Century), Dominica 1842. A proposal was made in St. Lucia in 1888 to make Bank of England notes legal tender, but it was overruled.

    • ii. Despite the £ s. d. units, the public accounts appear to have been kept in B.W.I. dollars until 1948 when the B.W.I. dollar replaced sterling as the unit. Private accounts have always been kept in B.W.I. dollars.

    • iii. U.K. silver coins are unlimited legal tender, but see (vi) below.

    • iv. See also Bahamas, General notes (iii) and (iv), the U.S. reference being 1935.

    • v. Banks: Barclays (Dominion, Colonial, and Overseas) and Royal Bank of Canada.

    • vi. Windward Islands has joined the British Caribbean unified currency system. For details, see Appendix II. Other coins and notes will be withdrawn as circumstances permit.

Zanzibar (1890)

  • Unit: East African shilling.

  • Legal tender: East African Currency Board coins and notes (Shs. 5, Shs. 10, Shs. 20, Shs. 100, Shs. 1,000, Shs. 10,000).

  • Other media: Seyyidieh pice.

  • General notes:

    • i. Zanzibar became a British Protectorate in part in 1890, more fully so in 1906, and its control passed from the Foreign Office to the Colonial Office in 1913.

    • ii. Zanzibar used the Indian rupee and a local note issue based on it until 1936 when the currency link was changed from the rupee to sterling and Zanzibar joined the East African Currency Board. See Kenya, General notes (ii) and (iii).

    • iii. Banks: National Bank of India, Standard Bank of South Africa, and Messrs. Jetha Lila.

APPENDIX II: Sample Constitutions of Boards West African Currency Board Regulations

1. The West African Currency Board has been constituted to provide for and to control the supply of currency to the British West African Colonies and Protectorates and Trust Territories (hereinafter referred to as the constituent Territories), to ensure that the currency is maintained in satisfactory condition and generally to watch over the interests of the constituent Territories so far as currency is concerned.

2. The members of the Board and the Secretary are appointed by the Secretary of State.

3. The Board will have power to appoint officers for the discharge of such duties in connection with currency in the United Kingdom or in British West Africa and at such rates of salary as the Board may think fit, subject in each case to the approval of the Secretary of State.

4. The Board is authorized to incur expenditure necessary for the due performance of such duties as are now or may be hereafter assigned to it.

5. The Board will have authority to make all necessary arrangements for the minting of any special coins authorized for circulation in the constituent Territories and to comply with applications for the supply of any coins at the time being legally current in those Territories. Subject to the provisions of these Regulations and of any legislation from time to time in force in the constituent Territories the Board may provide and may issue and re-issue therein notes hereinafter referred to as currency notes.

6. The plates from which the currency notes are printed shall be of such designs and shall bear such devices as the Secretary of State shall approve and shall be prepared by a person selected by the Board. The Board shall be responsible for their safe custody.

7. The currency notes shall be printed on such paper as may be approved by the Board and shall be authenticated by facsimiles of the signatures of the members of the Board for the time being.

8. The Board shall make such arrangements as it may from time to time think necessary or proper for the cancellation of notes withdrawn from further use for the destruction of such cancelled notes and for recording the issue and cancellation of notes.

9. The Board shall issue at its main centres at Accra, Bathurst, Freetown and Lagos, in the constituent Territories to any person who makes demand in that behalf coin or currency notes equivalent to the value (at the rate of Twenty shillings West African currency to One pound sterling) of sums in sterling lodged with the Board in London.

The Board shall pay to any person who makes demand in that behalf sterling in London equivalent to the value (calculated as aforesaid) of coin or currency notes lodged with the Board at its aforesaid centres in the constituent Territories.

Provided that:

  • i. The Board shall be entitled to levy from any person obtaining currency notes, coin or sterling under these provisions a commission at such rate or rates not exceeding three quarters of one per cent as it may determine from time to time.

  • ii. The Board may fix such minimum limits of values as it may think fit from time to time for the transactions referred to in this regulation.

  • iii. No person shall be entitled to receive currency in the constituent Territories or payment in London unless the Board is satisfied that payment of sterling has been made in London or equivalent currency tendered in the constituent Territories as the case may be.

10. Proceeds of the sale of coin and currency notes and all other revenue of the Board shall, after the necessary deductions have been made for all expenses and for any contributions made to the revenues of the British West African Governments under section 16 of these Regulations, be credited to a fund hereinafter referred to as the Currency Reserve Fund. Any losses which may be incurred will be debited to the Fund.

11. The Board may invest its funds in sterling securities of the Government of any part of His Majesty’s dominions, or in such other manner as the Secretary of State may approve. The extent to which investments may be made will be left to the discretion of the Board, whose duty it will be to hold, subject to any directions which may be received from the Secretary of State, a proportion of its reserve in a liquid form.

12. The Board shall submit half-yearly to the Secretary of State a statement of the position of the Currency Reserve Fund on the last days of June and December in each year including a Statement of Securities.

13. The Board shall cause to be made up half-yearly and published in the Government Gazettes of the constituent Territories an abstract showing: (a) the whole amount of the West African coinage and note circulations on the last days of June and December in each year, (b) the total amount of the Currency Reserve Fund on the said days, (c) the nominal value of, price paid for and latest known market price of the securities forming the investment portion of the Reserve Fund.

14. The accounts of all the transactions of the Board will be audited by the Colonial Audit Department.

15. The Board will submit annually for the approval of the Secretary of State a statement of its transactions during the preceding year.

16. The Board may, with the approval of the Secretary of State, pay any sum which it thinks proper out of its income by way of contribution to the revenues of the British West African Governments.

17. When the Board is satisfied, and shall have satisfied the Secretary of State, that its reserves are more than sufficient to ensure the convertibility of the coin and the note issue, and to provide a reasonable reserve against possible depreciation the Board may pay over the whole or part of the surplus amount in aid of the revenues of the British West African Governments.

18. The Regulations defining the constitution, duties and powers of the Board dated 11th July, 1924, are hereby revoked.

19. These Regulations may be cited as the West African Currency Board Regulations, 1949.

A. Creech Jones, Secretary of State.

2nd September, 1949.

British Caribbean Territories (Eastern Group)

(a) Inter-Colonial Agreement

An agreement made between the Governments of the Colonies of Barbados, British Guiana, the Leeward Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Colonies of Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia and Dominica, comprising the Windward Islands.

Whereas it is desired to constitute a Board of Commissioners to provide for and control the supply of currency to the territories administered by the Governments participating in this Agreement:

It is hereby agreed as follows:

1. (1) There shall be constituted a Board of Commissioners of Currency to be styled the “Board of Commissioners of Currency, British Caribbean Territories (Eastern Group)” (hereinafter referred to as “The Board”) which shall consist of five members to be appointed by the Secretary of State, the Governors of Barbados, British Guiana, the Leeward Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Windward Islands, each having the right to nominate one such member to represent his respective territory.

(2) The Board shall elect one of its number to be Chairman.

(3) The term of office of the members and the Chairman shall be three years, subject to their continuing resident within the territory they respectively represent. Subject to the foregoing conditions each member shall be eligible for re-appointment.

(4) In addition to the five members appointed under paragraph (1) there shall be an Executive Officer of the Board of which he shall be a member with the title of “Executive Commissioner” and the right to vote. The said Executive Commissioner shall be appointed by the Secretary of State. He shall be responsible, subject to the direction of the Board, for all executive matters connected with the procurement, issue, retirement, distribution and holding of the Board’s notes and coin.

(5) The Chairman and members of the Board shall be paid such remuneration and allowances as may from time to time be determined by the Secretary of State.

(6) Any duty devolving and any power conferred on the Board may be discharged or exercised by any three members, and, in the absence of the Chairman elected under paragraph (2), members may for the purpose of any particular meeting elect a chairman ad hoc. The Chairman shall have an original and a casting vote.

(7) The Board shall establish its headquarters at Trinidad and offices at such other places as may be required and may employ such agents, officers, and persons as may be required.

(8) If any member of the Board is for the time being unable to act the Governor by whom he has been nominated may appoint a fit person to act in his place during such inability.

(9) The Board and its officers and servants shall be deemed to be public servants for the purpose of the criminal law in force in the territories of the participating Governments.

2. (1) The Board shall have the sole right to issue currency notes and coin in the territories administered by the participating Governments who shall not issue any such notes or coin nor authorize such issue by other persons.

(2) The Board shall assume all the liabilities, obligations and responsibilities of the currency authorities of Barbados, British Guiana and Trinidad and Tobago with respect to the Government currency notes which have been issued and are in circulation on the coming into force of this Agreement. The said currency authorities shall transfer to the Board sterling in London or investments out of the existing respective Note Security Funds to an aggregate market value agreed by the Board to be the equivalent of the amount of the note liability so assumed by the Board.

(3) The Governments of Barbados, British Guiana and Trinidad and Tobago shall take all necessary measures to demonetize and facilitate the withdrawal by the Board of the currency notes issued by their respective currency authorities and in circulation and shall in due course repeal the Ordinances under the authority of which such notes have been issued.

(4) The participating Governments as and when circumstances permit shall demonetize and procure the withdrawal and appropriate disposal, under arrangements with His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, of the United Kingdom coin now in current circulation in the territories administered by them.

(5) The notes and coin to be issued by the Board shall be in the following denominations:

article image

Provided that notes and coins of other denominations may be issued as required with the approval of the Secretary of State; such notes and coin to be in dollars at the rate of 100 cents for each dollar of the value equivalent to four shillings and two pence of sterling in London.

3. (1) The Board shall establish and maintain a fund to be called “The Currency Fund” (hereinafter referred to as “The Fund”) which shall be held in London by the Crown Agents for meeting the redemption of currency and shall not be applied for any other purposes except as provided in this Agreement.

(2) The sterling in London or investments transferred to the Board in accordance with Article 2 (2) of this Agreement shall be held for the account of the Fund which shall be credited with the amount thereof at the agreed aggregate market value.

(3) There shall further be paid into the Fund:

  • (a) all sterling received in exchange for currency notes or coin;

  • (b) the proceeds of any transactions under paragraph (6) of this Article, less all expenses incurred in connection therewith.

(4) The Fund may be invested in sterling securities of or guaranteed by the Government of any part of the British Empire (except the participating Governments) or such other securities, as, with the approval of the Secretary of State, may be selected by the Crown Agents:

Provided that a proportion of the Fund shall be held in London in liquid form and such proportion may be determined and varied from time to time with the approval of the Secretary of State by the Board.

(5) The liquid portion of the Fund may be held in cash or on deposit at the Bank of England or in Treasury Bills or may be lent out at call or for short terms in such ways or invested in such readily realizable securities as may be approved by the Secretary of State.

(6) Notwithstanding anything in the preceding paragraphs contained the Board may:

  • (a) use any coins held for the account of the Fund for the purpose of having them re-minted and coined into current coin;

  • (b) pay from the Fund the cost of the purchase of metal to be minted into current coin; and

  • (c) sell any coins held for the account of the Fund provided that the proceeds of any such transactions shall be paid into the Fund.

(7) The value of the Fund for any of the purposes of this Agreement shall be the current realizable value of the whole of the assets held in the Fund, investments of the Fund being valued at the current market price at the time of valuation.

4. (1) The Board shall open and maintain an account to be called the “Currency Fund Income Account” (hereinafter referred to as the “Income Account”) into which shall be paid all dividends, interest or other revenue derived from investments or from the employment in any other manner of the moneys of the Fund and all commissions paid to the Board in connection with the issue or redemption of currency notes or coin.

(2) There shall be charged upon the Income Account:

  • (a) all the expenses other than the expenses referred to in Article 3 incurred by the Board and by the Crown Agents in the preparation, transport, issue, redemption and demonetization of currency notes and coin and the transaction of any business relating thereto;

  • (b) any expenses incurred by the Board for the protection of the currency against counterfeiting or forgery of coins or notes; and

  • (c) a sum equal to one per centum of the value of the Fund at the end of the year calculated in accordance with Article 3(7) of this Agreement which shall be paid annually into the Fund.

Provided that the Board may with the approval of the Secretary of State direct that any expenditure of an exceptional nature may be charged upon the Fund and not upon the Income Account.

(3) If on the last day in any year there is a surplus in the Income Account it shall be paid to the credit of an account to be called the “British Caribbean Territories (Eastern Group) (Currency Surplus) Account” (hereinafter referred to as the “Surplus Account”) to be set up as provided in Article 5 of this Agreement; but if on the last day in any year there is a deficiency in the Income Account it shall be met according to the scale prescribed in Article 5 (2) from any sums standing to the credit of the Governments concerned in the Surplus Account or from moneys to be appropriated and paid from the revenues of the Governments. If any Government should default on any payment due under this paragraph, the amount in default may be recovered from any subsequent payment due to that Government out of the Surplus Account as provided in Article 5 of this Agreement.

Provided that:

  • (a) if on the last day in any year the face value of the currency notes and current coin in circulation exceeds the value of the Fund calculated in accordance with Article 3(7) of this Agreement there shall be paid into the Fund the whole of the said surplus in the Income Account or such part thereof as shall make up the monies of the Fund as aforesaid to an amount equal to the face value of the currency notes and current coin in circulation; and

  • (b) if on the last day in any year the value of the Fund so calculated exceeds one hundred and ten per centum of the face value of the currency notes and current coin in circulation the Board may with the sanction of the Secretary of State direct:

    • i. that the whole or part of the excess over one hundred and ten per centum shall be transferred from the Fund to the Income Account: and

    • ii. that the annual appropriation out of the Income Account of the one per centum aforesaid shall be wholly or partially discontinued for so long as it shall appear that the necessity for such annual appropriation no longer exists.

5. (1) There shall be set up a British Caribbean Territories (Eastern Group) (Currency Surplus) Account, into which shall be paid any surplus in the Income Account arising as provided in Article 4.

(2) The participating Governments shall be entitled to share in the Surplus Account according to the following scale:

article image

Provided that if; on the expiration of a period of two years of the quinquennial period commencing from the first day of January, 1951, a new scale is agreed upon that new scale should be substituted for the above and shall remain in force until the end of the quinquennial period; but provided further that if at the end of any such quinquennial period no such agreement is reached the scale then in force shall continue in operation for the next quinquennial period.

(3) Each of the participating Governments shall authorize from time to time the Board to pay out of its share of the sums standing to the credit of the Surplus Account its share of such charges in addition to the charges referred to in Article 4 of this Agreement as the Governments may from time to time agree should be so paid.

(4) Any balance remaining in the Surplus Account to the credit of any participating Government at the end of any year after the payment of any charges as provided in paragraph (3) of this Article shall be paid to that Government on demand.

6. (1) If the assets of the Fund should at any time prove inadequate to meet legal demands upon the Board for the conversion of currency into sterling, each participating Government shall be liable to meet any deficiency in the Fund.

(2) If the value of the Fund calculated as provided in Article 3(7) shall at any time be less than the face value of the currency notes and current coin in circulation and in the opinion of the Secretary of State it shall be necessary to make up such deficiency in the Fund either wholly or partly each participating Government shall be liable for the sum which in the opinion of the Secretary of State is required to be paid into the Fund.

(3) Any liability under paragraphs (1) and (2) of this Article shall be apportioned between the participating Governments according to the scale prescribed in Article 5 (2).

(4) Should one or more of the participating Governments make default in respect of the above imposed obligation the other participating Governments shall be liable to make good such default each in the proportion which its liability as set out in the scale bears to the total liability of such non-defaulting Governments. Provided that in the event of a default being so made good any sums due thereafter to the defaulting Government or Governments from the Surplus Account shall be paid to the Governments which have made good such defaults in the like proportions until the amount so made good by them has been refunded.

7. (1) The Accounts of all transactions of the Board shall be audited once in every year by such persons and in accordance with such regulations as the Secretary of State may prescribe.

(2) An abstract of such Accounts shall be as soon as may be after such audit published in the Gazette of each participating Government.

(3) The Board shall on the first day of each month make up and as soon as may be thereafter published in the Gazette of each participating Government, an abstract showing the whole amount of currency notes in circulation on the said day and the average amount in circulation during the previous month.

(4) The Board shall also publish half yearly in the Gazette of each participating Government an abstract showing:

  • (a) the amount of the liquid portion of the Fund;

  • (b) the nominal value and price paid for and the latest known market price of the securities belonging to the Fund.

(5) The amount of notes in circulation at a particular date shall be deemed to be the total nominal amount of notes issued prior to that date by the Board after deducting the total nominal amount of notes received by the Board prior to that date.

(6) The said abstracts shall from time to time and at least once a quarter be verified by a Board of Survey appointed in accordance with such regulations as the Secretary of State may prescribe.

8. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago, having undertaken to advance such funds as may be necessary to repay preliminary expenses and initial expenditure in connection with the establishment of the unified currency, the Board shall reimburse the Government of Trinidad and Tobago the amount of such advances.

9. Any dispute arising from the interpretation of this Agreement shall be referred to the Secretary of State whose decision shall be final and binding on all the Governments concerned.

Coins of the Eastern Group of the British Caribbean Territories which are legal tender

article image
Passed by the Legislative Council this 9th day of June, 1950.

(b) British Guiana Law Enacting Above

An Ordinance to implement an agreement to provide for a uniform currency in the Eastern Group of the British Caribbean territories. [17th June, 1950.]

Whereas government currency notes are issued in the Colony of Barbados under the authority of the Government Currency Notes (Barbados) Act, 1937, in the Colony of British Guiana under the authority of the Government Currency Notes Ordinance, 1937, and in the Colony of Trinidad and Tobago under the authority of the Government Currency Notes Ordinance;

And Whereas, by enactments of the Colonies of Barbados, British Guiana, and Trinidad and Tobago, government currency notes issued in any one of them are legal tender in all of them for the payment of any amount;

And Whereas, by enactments of the Colonies of the Leeward Islands and of the Colonies of Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia and Dominica comprising the Windward Islands, government currency notes issued in the Colony of Trinidad and Tobago are legal tender in the Leeward Islands and in the Windward Islands for the payment of any amount;

And Whereas, the Currency Conference held at Barbados in May 1946, recommended in their Report that a unified system of currency notes and coin for the Eastern Group of the British Caribbean Colonies, that is to say, Barbados, British Guiana, the Leeward Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, and Dominica comprising the Windward Islands, be established;

And Whereas, the Legislatures of the respective Colonies comprising the Eastern Group of the British Caribbean Colonies have, by resolution, approved of the establishment, in accordance with the recommendations contained in the Report of the Currency Conference of a unified system of currency notes and coin for the Eastern Group of the British Caribbean Colonies;

And Whereas, the recommendations of the Currency Conference are embodied in the Agreement the terms of which are set out in the First Schedule to this Ordinance:

Be it therefore enacted by the Governor of British Guiana, with the advice and consent of the Legislative Council thereof, as follows:

3. The provisions of the Agreement set out in the First Schedule hereto, made between the Governments of the Colonies of—shall have the force of law as if enacted in this Ordinance.

  • (a) Barbados,

  • (b) British Guiana,

  • (c) the Leeward Islands,

  • (d) Trinidad and Tobago,

  • (e) Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia and Dominica comprising the Windward Islands—

6. (1) Currency notes shall be legal tender in the Colony for the payment of any amount.

(2) Coin shall, if the coins have not been illegally dealt with, be legal tender to an amount not exceeding in the case of coins of a denomination of not less than twenty cents, ten dollars, and in the case of coins of a lower denomination, two dollars.

7. (1) The Board shall issue on demand to any person desiring to receive currency notes in the Colony, currency notes to the equivalent value (at the rate of one dollar for four shillings and two pence) of sums in sterling lodged with the Crown Agents in London by the said person, and shall pay on demand through the Crown Agents to any person desiring to receive sterling in London the equivalent value calculated as aforesaid of currency notes lodged with the Board in the Colony by the said person:

Provided that—

  • (a) no person shall be entitled to lodge with the Crown Agents or the Board as the case may be less than such minimum sum as may from time to time be prescribed for the purpose of obtaining currency notes or sterling as the case may be; and

  • (b) the Board shall be entitled to charge and levy from any person obtaining currency notes or sterling commission at such rate or rates as the Board may think fit, not exceeding three quarters per centum and in addition the cost of any telegrams sent by the Board or by the Crown Agents in connection with any transfer as above described.

(2) The Board may, at its option, issue and receive coin in the same manner and subject to the same conditions as are prescribed in subsection (1) of this section for the issue and receipt of currency notes.

10. (1) On the commencement of this Ordinance in so far as it relates to currency notes no person shall draw, accept, make or issue any bill of exchange, promissory note or engagement for the payment of money payable to bearer on demand or borrow, owe, or take up any sum or sums of money on any bill of exchange, promissory note or engagement for the payment of money payable only to bearer on demand of any such person:

Provided that—

  • (a) cheques or drafts payable to bearer on demand may be drawn on bankers or agents by their customers or constituents in respect of moneys in the hands of these bankers or agents held by them at the disposal of the person drawing such cheques or drafts; and

  • (b) bank notes issued before the commencement of this Ordinance by banks duly authorized by law so to do shall be exempt from the operation of this section subject to the provisions of subsection (1) (c) of section four.

(2) Any person contravening the provisions of this section shall, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any other law, be liable on summary conviction to a fine of two hundred and fifty dollars or to a fine equal to twice the amount of the bill, note or engagement in respect whereof the offence is committed whichever is the greater notwithstanding that the amount of such fine may be in excess of the ordinary jurisdiction of a magistrate’s court.

(3) A prosecution under this section shall not be instituted except by the Board or by an agent duly authorized by the Board in writing.

13. Nothing in this Ordinance shall be construed as affecting any rights which Barclays Bank (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas), formerly the Colonial Bank, may have at the commencement of this Ordinance to issue or re-issue bank notes in the Colony.

15. (1) This Ordinance, in so far as it relates to currency notes, shall come into operation on such date as the Governor shall by Proclamation published in the Gazette appoint.

(2) This Ordinance, in so far as it relates to coin, shall come into operation on such date as the Governor shall by Proclamation published in the Gazette appoint.

Other Publications of the International Monetary Fund

Balance of Payments Yearbooks

These Yearbooks make available to the public the bulk of the balance of payments information that the Fund has gathered for operating purposes. They present a statement of balance of payments principles, and give, by countries, balance of payments data in a standard form, and also in a financing form showing how the surpluses or deficits were financed. The first volume gives data for 51 countries for 1938, 1946, and 1947. The second volume covers 58 countries through 1948, with preliminary data for 1949. The third volume completes 1949, carries the preliminary record through 1950, and gives a regional classification of the balance of payments for Europe, Latin America, and about 30 individual countries.

Price for each Yearbook: US$5,00 for library bound buckram and US$4.00 for paper bound volume, or approximately equivalent prices in currencies of most countries. First volume 383 pages; second volume 428 pages; third volume 436 pages.

International Financial Statistics

Statistics on all aspects of international finance for most of the countries in the world are contained in this publication. It is available monthly by subscription. For rapid delivery to European subscribers, each issue is printed in Paris as well as in Washington.

About 200 pages, monthly. Subscription: US$5.00 or approximately equivalent price in currencies of most countries.

Direction of International Trade

This is a joint publication of the International Monetary Fund, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Statistical Office of the United Nations. It is issued monthly and presents trade-by-country statistics, expressed in U.S. dollars, for 94 countries. The first thirteen numbers, now available, contain data for 1948,1949, 1950, and 1951 through April. Inquiries should be addressed to Statistical Office of the United Nations, New York, N. Y., U. S. A.

International Monetary Fund

1818 H Street, N.W.

Washington 25, D. C, U. S. A.

*

Mr. Shannon, Acting Chief of the British Commonwealth Division, is a graduate of the University of Belfast and the London School of Economics. He was formerly Senior Lecturer in the University of the Witwatersrand and in the University of Bristol and Assistant Secretary, the British Board of Trade. He is the author of articles in various economic journals.

1

H.A. Shannon, “Evolution of the Colonial Sterling Exchange Standard,” Staff Papers, Vol. I, pp. 334-54 (April 1951).

2

The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are neither colonies nor integral parts of the United Kingdom. In the Isle of Man, the Tynwald assimilated the Manx currency to the British in 1839. In Jersey, sterling was made legal tender by local Acts in 1835 and 1876. In Guernsey, sterling was made legal tender concurrently with French money only in 1870. In addition, Jersey and Guernsey today issue their own pound notes and each has its own local copper coinage. English and French currency circulate side by side, and the rate of exchange of the latter with the local currency is the same as that with English currency. The Trucial Sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf are also not colonial territories; the currency is the Indian rupee. For other details about them, see Board of Trade Journal, May 1951, p. 1120.

3

Similar arrangements are to be found elsewhere. For example, according to a provision of the U.S. Act of 1934 [48 Stat. I (456) § 2(9)] which granted commonwealth status to the Philippines, legislation in the Philippines affecting money and coinage required the approval of the President of the United States. After the attainment of independence by the Philippines, an agreement between the Philippines and the United States, which granted reciprocal trade preferences between the two countries (the terms of which are set forth in the Philippine Trade Act of 1946), again provided that “The value of the Philippine currency in relation to the U.S. dollar shall not be changed, the convertibility of the peso into dollars shall not be suspended and no restrictions shall be imposed on the transfer of funds from the Philippines to the United States except by agreement with the President of the United States.” This agreement expires in July 1974, or after five years’ notice by either the United States or the Philippine Republic.

4

The whole question as to when and how Dominion currencies actually become separate currencies can bristle with legal difficulties in a given case, and its solution can be full of legal niceties and subtleties. For an example, see Bonython v. Commonwealth of Australia, 75 C.L.R. (1948). More generally, see “Pounds Sterling,” Bankers’ Magazine, January 1951, pp. 36-46.

5

Basutoland, Bechuanaland, British Solomon Islands, Gilbert and Ellice Islands, New Hebrides, St. Helena, and Swaziland.

6

Until 1833 each of the then Colonies appointed its own business agent in London to conduct its general financial affairs there. These agencies were then consolidated and evolved into the Crown Agents for the Colonies. Though supervised by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Crown Agents receive their instructions direct from each Colony, and they are financially self-supporting through the commissions and fees they charge for services rendered.

7

Compare the Notifications of the Governor-General in Council which used to regulate the convertibility of sovereigns into rupees in the latter part of the 19th Century (J. M. Keynes, Indian Currency and Finance, London, 1913), pp. 8-10.

8

See Appendix I, under Malaya, Fiji, Hong Kong.

9

See Cmd. 7167 (The Colonial Empire, 1939-47), p. 106: “The growth of the currency circulation and of bank balances may be attributed partly to military expenditure in the Colonies and partly to a relative increase in exports of Colonial produce as compared with imports, due to wartime conditions of short supply and to the cooperation of Colonial Governments in following a strict policy of import licensing.”

10

There are no colonial currency laws which restrict Currency Boards to dealing only with banks. Although this practice was at one time carried on administratively in West Africa, it has now been discontinued.

11

See, however, the discussion of Southern Rhodesia below.

12

A discussion of the 100 per cent reserve system in a different context will be included in an article on currency unification in Libya, to be published in a later issue of Staff Papers.

13

G. L. M. Clauson, “The British Colonial Currency System.” The Economic Journal, April 1944, p. 11.

14

It can give rise to some nice constitutional points. For example, Malta, which is both fortress and colonial possession, has a dyarchical form of government and, at one stage in the drafting of its present constitution, income from “reserved powers” was itself reserved. This, taken literally, would have deprived Malta of its currency profits. Naturally, a contrary understanding was agreed upon.

15

See H. A. Shannon, op. cit., p. 349.