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 Stephen Byers Stephen Byers Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry 3:30 pm, 28th June 2000

My hon. Friend has been a great champion of providing financial services to many communities, and he has done valuable work on exposing the actions of some high street banks. He is also right to point out that the strategy adopted by many banks gives the Post Office a golden opportunity to provide financial services to many individuals who are now denied them as a result of that strategy. The role of the universal bank will be quite different from that of Girobank, which has now been linked with Alliance and Leicester. Essentially, the universal bank will be geared to the 3.5 million people who are unbanked. Those who do not want to use it as a banking facility can simply access their benefits or their pensions at their local post office, but those who want to use it for a wider range of financial services will be able to do so. It will be a matter of choice and we believe that that is the appropriate approach.