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Mervyn King gives chancellor a bit of investment advice

When the Bank of England launches a new note, the chancellor gets one with the serial number 11 – the latest came with an added bit of advice

Mervyn King’s exasperation at the Treasury’s failure to unblock lending to Britain’s small businesses is well known, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that he used a recent missive to the chancellor to make a helpful suggestion along those lines.

Tradition has it that when the Bank launches a new banknote, the chancellor of the exchequer receives the one with the serial number 11 (numbers one, two and three go to the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the prime minister respectively – none of whom, you might think, need the money).

When the new £50 was launched last November, the fact that the governor had chosen as the illustration not just the steam engineer James Watt, but also the entrepreneur who backed him, Matthew Boulton, aroused suspicions that he was trying to send a message to the country about the importance of unblocking the flow of finance to budding entrepreneurs.

So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that when the governor dutifully sent a crisp new £50 over to George Osborne, he scrawled at the bottom of the accompanying letter, now displayed in a glass cabinet in the Treasury’s foyer, “please invest in an SME”. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds