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Post Office Closures

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:40 pm on 15th May 2002.

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Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson Conservative, Eastbourne 4:40 pm, 15th May 2002

I think it would if that were genuinely the case, but I have formed the same impression as the hon. Member for Twickenham—that this is not the sort of business the banks really want, or would seek if they were not being put under intense pressure to help the Government out. Once they get wind of the fact that the Government are trying to cajole people into going for the bank rather than the post office option, the matter may well be reopened by the banks themselves.

We should remember that the regulator was established by this very Government, as an independent regulator. We should also remember that two aims featured in all the detail of the Postcomm proposals. The first is improving services for consumers. As I said earlier, in many respects Consignia—the Post Office as it currently is—is not fulfilling even its current service requirements. The second, although it does not seem to be seen in this way, is safeguarding the future of the Post Office, or Consignia.

In its briefing, Consignia says:

"We accept that greater competition will spur us on to be innovative, improve our customer service and become more efficient."

The only issue between it and the regulator seems to be the pace at which the market is to be opened. The regulator takes the view that competition will encourage efficiency and innovation. That has certainly been true in other countries where postal services have been opened up, and in other parts of our own national life and economy.