Sub-post Offices

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 3:42 pm on 12th April 2000.

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Photo of Angela Browning Angela Browning Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry 3:42 pm, 12th April 2000

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. In the rural communities that he and I represent, a fragile situation is deteriorating. He, along with other Members of Parliament, will have made his representations, because there is now a sense of urgency. All our constituencies contain dozens of sub-post offices which are now genuinely at risk, not in three years' time but this year.

Sub-post offices deserve better than the Government's action. It is no good the Prime Minister saying, as he said yet again today, that cash dispensers are the answer. People need bank accounts in order to obtain money from cash dispensers, and if a post office is to have a cash dispenser in the wall there must be a minimum number of transactions a week for it to be viable.

There is another problem, unless the Government announce today that they are to round up all state benefits into multiples of five. In my experience, it is not possible to obtain both notes and coins from a cash dispenser. Pensioners who prefer to draw all their benefit each week so that they can plan how to spend it will not be used to that, but they may now be forced to make more than one visit a week.