Does anyone really give a toss if a coin is abolished?

I’m too young to remember the farthing but old enough to remember the half-pence piece, which was scrapped in 1984 - around the time I started to get teenage spots. The appearance of the spots distressed me more than the disappearance of the coins.

Now it could be that the penny’s dropped. The Government is holding a consultation “to better understand the role of cash and digital payments in the new economy”, and the suggestion is that 1p coins could be done away with altogether. We have until June to give them our views.

According to the Royal Mint there are 11.3 billion pennies in circulation - if that’s the right term. Most aren’t circulating at all, but lie in a jar in the kitchen, down the back of the sofa, or are dropped in a charity box as soon as they’re received.

Apparently 550 million of them are minted every year and although they cost less than 1p each to make, they’re still expensive for something that is worth so little and used so rarely.

A 1p coin is now worth less than the halfpenny was when it was abolished in 1984. After 34 years of inflation, a penny is now worth a third of what it was worth back then.

So there’s a strong argument for scrapping them. Other European countries have dropped their smallest coins. And contrary to what some people seem to believe, not everything from Europe is necessarily a bad idea.

Six of the countries in the eurozone no longer bother with one or two cent coins, and round prices up or down to the nearest five. So prices ending in a one, two, six or seven are rounded down, and those ending in three, four, eight or nine get rounded up.

It’s practised in the Netherlands, Belgium and Finland, and since October it’s been a voluntary scheme in the Republic of Ireland.

It’s being encouraged by the Irish central bank. Stickers are being displayed near shop tills bearing the message which "Better all round".

It could be another of those advances where the Republic of Ireland leads the way and Britain eventually follows. They introduced charges for plastic carrier bags and banned smoking in enclosed public spaces long before we ever got round to it.

They’ve also long since gone metric in their road signs and speed limits - something long overdue here.

Europhobes may see metric measurements as some evil European interference. But it is daft to teach our children about kilometres at school to prepare them to enter a world of miles.

Either the schools or the road signs need to change. And no maths or science lesson would ever go imperial. Personally I’d rather have a litre of beer than a pint.

There are of course arguments against doing away with the smallest denominations. Consumer groups in Ireland complain that shops see it as an opportunity to increase their prices.

If, for example, an item cost 97 cents they’ll increase it to 98 so it gets rounded up to one euro, rather than down to 95.

And surely charities will suffer. Think of the number of shops and pubs with charity boxes next to their tills. We’re far more likely to drop the coppers from our change in them than any silver coins, and over time they must add up to a lot.

Look after the pennies, the saying advises, and the pounds will look after themselves.

Indeed there are a great many sayings that mention pennies and may be rendered obsolete if pennies vanish - or confusing for the generations of children who grow up without ever seeing one.

We talk of making a pretty penny or spending a penny, offer a penny for your thoughts, warn against someone who’s a bad penny, and advise that a penny saved is a penny earned.

A miser may be penny-pinching and something common could be 10 a penny. And The Beatles sang about Penny Lane .

Other phrases might sound like they refer to money but don’t. When Barack Obama said: "Change has come to America," it wasn't nickles or dimes he was talking about.

There may be a sentimental attachment to pennies, but it’s hard to make a practical case for them. Most of us want to declutter our lives and scrapping our smallest denomination coins is one way to do that.

And some of these penny-related phrases make little sense anyway. Take: “See a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck.”

I can’t see why. Surely all it means is that all day long you’ll have a penny?