POLITICS
17/09/2013 14:51 BST | Updated 17/09/2013 14:57 BST

Bank Of England Refuses To Name Mystery Alternatives To Jane Austen Banknote

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Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, stands alongside the concept design for the new Bank of England ten pound banknote, featuring author Jane Austen during the presentation at the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, near Alton, U.K., on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. Jane Austen will appear on the U.K.'s next 10-pound note, ensuring at least one female figure is represented on the currency in circulation. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Bank Of England has refused to reveal the two other figures it considered featuring on banknotes instead of Jane Austen and Winston Churchill.

After a Freedom of Information request from the Huffington Post UK, the Bank disclosed that "two other candidates" were considered by officials in April 2012, when they chose Churchill and Austen as "contingency characters" for future print runs of UK banknotes.

The Bank revealed in April that Churchill would start featuring on UK £5 banknotes from 2016, while then governor Mervyn King told MPs that Austen was "waiting in the wings" to be featured on UK £10 banknotes. The decision to include the 19th century author on £10 banknotes from 2017 was confirmed by King's successor Mark Carney this June.

Banknote campaigners have called for greater female representation. Labour leader Ed Miliband said in June: "Why don't we have one of our great women scientists like Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and a suffragette like Emmeline Pankhurst on our banknotes?"

Despite the rush of banknote announcements, Bank Secretary John Footman directed bank officials to avoid revealing the identity of the other two candidates in order to protect the "free and frank provision of advice".

"The decision as to the design of a banknote rests with the Governor upon advice from amongst others the Chief Cashier and Notes Division, and is guided, among other things by suggestions from members of the public, which the Bank encourages and publishes on its website. Inevitably publication of the remaining names on the 2012 shortlist would create a presumption in the public mind that these would be the next to appear on a banknote, and that the Bank's mind was therefore closed to further suggestions," the Bank said.

Who could the mystery two figures be? HuffPostUK mocked up its own suggestions for other women to include.

Women On Sterling Banknotes

However, the suggestions from bookmakers indicate that Bank of England officials could have wanted to hide the other two figures they were considering as they were male.

Paddy Power estimates the likeliest candidates for inclusion on banknotes are Sir Alexander Fleming (7/1), followed by Charles Babbage (8/1), William Morris (11/1) and Lord Ashley Shafestbury (12/1).

The Bank has compiled a list of suggestions from the public here.