Readers' letters: There’s no need to replace Elizabeth II’s coins

Why do you state that “Elizabeth II’s coins are expected to stay in use until they are gradually replaced” (Scotsman, 9 September)?

I still have an envelope sent to me by an uncle in Tanganyika and Nyasaland in late 1952 or early 1953 bearing stamps of both King George VI and the late Queen, then newly-ascended to the throne. I must admit that I am unsure whether there was a date after which stamps of the old King ceased to be valid. Coins, however, were a different matter.

As a schoolboy (before they were erroneously called “students”), I took great pleasure in looking for old coins in my change. “Bun pennies” were a favourite, though usually very, very worn, to the point of complete illegibility. We all looked at the dates of George V pennies in the hope of finding one of the extremely rare 1933 pennies that were very valuable. We never did. Then, there were the different versions of 1918 pennies as well and probably mythical Edward VIII threepennies (“thrupenny bits”).

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Silver coins were pure sterling silver until 1920 and were still half silver content until 1947, so there weren't too many of them to be found in one’s change. However, I am very well aware of the fact that coins were never withdrawn because of a change of monarch.

There were obvious changes when decimal currency came in, when the old coins which were not decimal were withdrawn and, later on, the larger florins (10p) and 50p coins were replaced by smaller versions.

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However, I have no reason to believe that coins of our late Queen will be “replaced”. There is no reason why they should be, as King Charles III’s coins will be the same size and value as the late Queen’s.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

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A nation’s profound loss and sadness

King Charles?

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I am very sad about the passing of the Queen. But “King Charles III”? No! It’s now time for a King William or a republic.

Joe Moir, Aberdeen

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Fantastic voyage

I am surprised and disappointed by the the lack of coverage of this week’s 500th anniversary of the completion of that great human endeavour the first circumnavigation of the world.

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The expedition started with five ships and about 270 men under the command of Ferdinand Magellan. Almost three years later just one ship, the Victoria, by then captained by Juan Sebastian Elcano, completed the voyage with fewer than 20 men.

The mariners had contended with uncharted coasts and oceans, starvation, repeated bouts of scurvy, mutinies and hostile natives. On the homeward leg of the voyage they also had to face the Portuguese, who captured sailors in the Moluccan islands and also at Cape Verde.

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The Greeks had known since the fifth century BC that the world was round, and had calculated its size two centuries later. The Arabs, the Indians and the Chinese among others had made many long voyages.

But more than two centuries before marine chronometers and the use of lime juice as a prophylactic against scurvy, the Magellan-Elcano circumnavigation was a remarkable and inspiring achievement of human courage and tenacity in adversity.

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Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife

Helping Putin

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Grant Frazer thinks all our social and economic problems would be solved by splitting off from the UK (Letters, 7 September).

He says the UK Government has failed to deal with the energy crisis and the cost of living increases. He recommends the magic elixir of independence as the solution to all such problems, all the time ignoring the failure of the SNP Government to deliver the basic services which are its proper remit.

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Our education system is in decline, our health service is in crisis, we are burning more fossil fuels than ever, drug deaths are a scandal and government procurement practices are incompetent. Only a full-time zealot would consider giving such a government even more powers to ruin our country.

Mr Frazer goes further than that. He looks forward to Wales splitting off too and the North of Ireland being lost to its southern neighbour. In short, he wishes the complete dismemberment of the UK.

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It is hard to imagine what kind of an embittered psyche would welcome such devastation. The only other person I know who would welcome it is Vladimir Putin. He would certainly like to see the UK ripped apart, particularly since it has proved to be a stalwart ally of Ukraine. Perhaps Mr Frazer is jockeying for a place on Russia Today? There is precedent – other separatists have found RT quite congenial. But he should note where they are now – in the dustbin of history.

Les Reid, Edinburgh

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Energy crisis

Your headline “Who has the know-how to tackle the energy crisis?” (Letters, 8 September) is an interesting question. Dave Haskell’s letter below this headline does not answer the question.

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The electricity supply question can be answered by the engineering profession, mainly power engineers, who have repeatedly questioned the decision over the years to privatise the electricity industry in 1990. The Standard Price of Electricity was approximately 11 pence per kWh in 1990. What will the price be in October 2022?

Privatisation assumed that the market would be a better and cheaper way for the industry to develop. It has taken 30 years for this to be exposed as a failure. There is no market and the government has become responsible for the electricity industry in partnership with private energy companies.

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We now must recognise that politicians do not have the expertise to tackle the energy crisis but they are in a position to establish an expert team of engineers as a statutory body, in the form of a National Energy Authority, to plan, build and finance the electricity industry in Great Britain. Without such a body we shall not achieve long-term goals for the electricity industry which include security of supply, greatly reduced greenhouse gas emissions and much lower retail electricity prices.

C Scott, Edinburgh

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Sizewell C

Dave Haskell (Letters, 8 September) claims that the Sizewell C nuclear station would be “foreign-owned”, as if that is undesirable (don't we want inward investment?).

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In fact, it looks as if the UK government and EDF will each take a 20 per cent stake and that two leading banks will find the remaining 60 per cent from pension and infrastructure specialist funds, some foreign. Sizewell C claims to have “a long list of investors lining up behind the project” and insists that it “can deliver long-term inflation-linked reliable returns on investment”. Of course investors could come from any country and EDF is not wholly owned by the French government: anyone can buy EDF shares, even Mr Haskell.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

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Local democracy

A Scottish Government Reporter has recently granted permission on Appeal for the developer S. Harrison to build a four-storey block of student flats at East Newington Place in Edinburgh’s Southside.

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The decision goes against 96 local objections, the 'vehement opposition' of Southside Community Council, and a unanimous decision from the Council Planning Committee.

The Reporter's justification, beyond pages of quibbling on matters of opinion and unknown Census data, is his belief in the “significant advantages in locating dedicated student accommodation with appropriate access to the university”. The Reporter’s decision is final.

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Consequently, Southside faces more student accommodation being built, against council guidance protecting neighbourhoods from over-concentration of students: for Southside the overall proportion of students approaches 50 per cent, in East Newington Place itself it will be 94 per cent.

Second, East Newington Place, a narrow non-tenemental cul-de-sac, will have a tenement-sized building planted along its southern side; the Reporter says "a structure of some substance... a modern interpretation of the local pattern of large tenement buildings”. This “modern tenement” is much closer (14.5 metres) to the listed terrace opposite than is the local norm for tenements (20m). All in contravention to the Local Plan, which says new construction should respect existing buildings in “height and form”, and “scale and proportions, including the spaces between buildings”.

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Third, the new block contains only single-room studios, a form found to increase isolation and risk to mental health. The forthcoming council 2030 Plan explicitly forbids student developments with more than ten per cent of such rooms.

Most importantly, what does the decision say about the health of local democracy in Scotland? Since the united opposition of residents and the local authority failed to effect a single change to the application, I would say it shows the whole process to be a farce, and an exercise in pretendy people power.

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John Lightfoot, Edinburgh

Majority rule

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I am sure that Stan Grodynski (Letters, 9 September) must be aware that the party which shares his view that independence transcends all requires a 66 per cent majority for any vote on a change in its constitution. Presumably he is perfectly happy with that arrangement, which doesn’t seem unreasonable.

On the other hand he is angered by the suggestion that more than a 50 per cent majority should be required in a referendum. I would have thought that at least the same requirements would be expected for a life-changing constitutional change as for one merely changing the rules within a political party. If democracy is “on life support” in the UK, as Mr Grodynski claims, then by the same token it must be long dead and buried within the SNP.

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Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

Write to The Scotsman

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