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Post Office Closures

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:38 pm on 15th May 2002.

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Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 3:38 pm, 15th May 2002

Does my hon. Friend accept that there is another indirect way in which people are being coerced to change their accounts? For example, just a mile away from here the Elephant and Castle branch office was said to be closing about three years ago. The decision was then deferred, but the closure was announced again. Those involved consulted wrongly, so they had to do it again. The staff were telling people all the time that the branch may not be open in the future, so people were being persuaded to move their accounts elsewhere. Of course, that is self-fulfilling. At the end of an exercise in which an urban post office is threatened with closure, the number of people using it decreases significantly so the case for its staying open is significantly reduced. That is another example of death by 1,000 cuts, which is surely exactly why we need to have clear policy, clear commitment and a belief that people, particularly those without other accounts, should be encouraged to use the Post Office if they wish to do so, not discouraged from doing so.