Post Office Network

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 28th June 2000.

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Photo of Mr Martin O'Neill Mr Martin O'Neill Chair, Trade & Industry Committee, Chair, Trade & Industry Committee 3:30 pm, 28th June 2000

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the report. Some of us were worried when the Horizon project was substantially altered. Today's statement has dealt with most of our anxieties, and those who run post offices in rural and disadvantaged areas will have some hope. The package of support, the encouragement of diversification and the announcement about the universal bank are heartening.

I want to make a point about the record of Post Office Counters in negotiating with external bodies about franchised services. We all know about the loss of Powercard in the past couple of years, and the great disadvantages that that created for many of our constituents. I hope that my right hon. Friend, commercial freedom notwithstanding, will keep an eye on the rather macho approach that Post Office Counters sometimes takes in negotiations. I hope that we will not lose the opportunity of gaining access to important services through the Post Office because of the simplistic approach that Post Office Counters sometimes adopts.