RBS insistence on using English to write cheques angers Gaels

Share this article

THE body responsible for developing Gaelic yesterday said that bank customers might cancel accounts if they were not allowed to use the language to write cheques.

Michael Drummond, from Stornoway, was told by the Royal Bank of Scotland he should use English when filling in cheques, despite the bank issuing him with a bilingual cheque book with his name and other details printed in Gaelic.

Arthur Cormack, chairman of Brd na Gidhlig, the national Gaelic development agency, has now raised the issue with RBS Group chief executive Stephen Hester.

Mr Cormack said: "I feel sure that withdrawing this kind of support for Gaelic will lead to the withdrawal, through time, of Gaelic signage on the branches where that exists, and eventually Gaelic may be eradicated from RBS services altogether."

He added: "You also run the risk, against this backdrop and in the current economic climate, of Gaelic-speaking customers removing their accounts from your branches."

A RBS spokesman said the bank was pleased to offer customers the choice of having their cheque books and statements printed in Gaelic. "But it is necessary, when customers issue cheques, that they are written in English, as in the UK that is the language understood by all those through whose hands the cheque may pass from the time it is issued until it is paid.

"We, as paying bank, must be able to verify that the amount written in words is the same as the amount shown in figures.

"If Gaelic is used, that would require having Gaelic readers at every place where Gaelic cheques may be presented. For practical reasons that is not possible, so we must insist cheques are written in English."

But Mr Cormack suggested that the bank should rethink its decision.

Back to the top of the page