Ministers urge Bank of England to pick ethnic minority person as face of new £50 note

Posted On: 
16th February 2019

Ministers have called on the Bank of England not to choose a white person as the face of the new £50 note in a bid to improve the representation of black and minority ethnic people in Britain.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney launches the central bank's hunt for the face of the new £50 note.

Exchequer Secretary Robert Jenrick has thrown his weight behind a campaign to try and make the country's currency more diverse.

He told the Telegraph: "The new £50 note should symbolise our values as a country."

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And he added: "Bank notes are symbols of identity and project our country and values to the world, so they should reflect all of our people, our history and our future as a great open and diverse nation."

The intervention comes after Tory MP and former minister Helen Grant wrote to Bank of England governor Mark Carney urging him to address "the lack of representation of ethnic minorities on British banknotes".

Mr Carney will this summer reveals who has been chosen to feature on the new £50 note, after whittling down nearly 1,000 names - including former prime minister Margaret Thatcher - who are still in the running.

Ms Grant told the governor that he had "a duty to ensure that wider diversity is represented on our currency".

She added: "Undoubtedly, the absence of ethnic minorities from UK banknotes also sends a damaging message that ethnic minorities are invisible and have done nothing at all of significance in our history."

The Bank published a longlist of scientists who could feature on the note late last year - although campaigners have warned that narrowing the field to science could limit choice.

A spokesperson said the Bank took its "commitment to diversity very seriously" with the representation of different groups "actively considered at every stage of the character selection process for our banknotes".

"For the £50 note, as for the £20 note, we held a public nomination process for eligible characters. The field of science was chosen by an advisory committee with a diverse and independent membership."

A government source meanwhile told the Telegraph: "The UK is defined by its rich cultural history made by people from all backgrounds and we appreciate initiatives like Helen Grant’s that demand these voices are heard and given the recognition they deserve."