New £50 note ‘should feature someone from minority background’, MP claims

A new £50 note should recognise the contribution made by Britain's diverse communities by featuring a person from a black, Asian or minority-ethnic background, an MP has told the House of Commons.

Helen Grant, the Conservative Member for Maidstone and The Weald, has urged MPs to pass the bill amid fears a disproportionate number of “historic white men” have appeared on banknotes.

Statistics show 14% of the UK's population are from non-white backgrounds, prompting calls the nation's currency should better reflect its diversity.

All but three people featured on British banknotes have been men.

A person from a minority background has not featured on legal tender in the British Isles since the Roman Empire, when Emperor Septimius Severus, who was of north African origin, appeared on coins.

Among the contenders suggested by Ms Grant were Mary Seacole, a British-Jamaican nurse who tended soldiers during the Crimean War alongside Florence Nightingale.

The Tory MP also referenced war hero Noor Inayat Khan who was the first female radio operator sent into Nazi-occupied France by the Special Operations Executive and was later caught and executed by the Gestapo, Suffragette Sophia Duleep Singh, and Sir Charles Kao, who pioneered the use of fibre-optic communications, as deserving candidates to be included on a banknote.

The Bank of England has a Credit: PA

Mrs Grant said: “I believe the Governor of the Bank of England now has a unique opportunity to address an archaic stereotype, one that completely undermines the credible efforts towards diversity and inclusion that are indeed taking place at the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street."

Mrs Grant added that including “a person of diversity on our banknotes” would be a “fundamental shift from a national stereotype”.

The Banknote Diversity Bill will be brought back for a second reading on April 5.