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 right hon. Friend is right to say that there are many aspects of today's announcement will be of real benefit to his constituents and to many other people living in inner-city areas. Much of the work conducted by the performance and innovation unit revealed that many of the 3.5 million people who do not have a bank account felt that a bank account was not appropriate for them for two main reasons: first, they felt that they were talked down to and they felt uncomfortable about going into a bank; and secondly, they did not want to get into debt as a result of having an overdraft facility. The reason why they liked the idea of a universal bank was that they trusted the Post Office and felt comfortable with it. They felt that they could trust the way in which the Post Office dealt with their affairs. People who already have bank accounts will be perfectly entitled to join the universal bank and they will be offered the whole range of financial services that the banking sector provides. Once again, that will be a matter of choice, but I am confident that the universal bank will open up a new direction in terms of offering financial services to many people who are presently excluded from many of the benefits that most of us take for granted.