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Post Office Closures

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:16 pm on 15th May 2002.

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Photo of Mr Richard Page Mr Richard Page Conservative, South West Hertfordshire 5:16 pm, 15th May 2002

I understand the hon. Gentleman's comments, but when one is trying to advertise something it is helpful if it has only one name rather than two or three. Everyone agrees that the Consignia issue has muddied rather than cleared the waters.

I was convinced when we were in office and afterwards that the way ahead was for a BT to be done on our postal services. In 1988, I made that point to the Minister for Pensions, who was then a Minister at the Department of Trade and Industry. He responded by drawing the House's attention to my general shortcomings. He has done so regularly, and I fully accept that; I am used to it. Apart from doing that, he said:

"we are rebuilding a Post Office from the wreck left by the previous Government. From day one of this Government we have made the Post Office a priority, and we shall continue to do so."—[Hansard, 14 May 1998; Vol. 312, c. 499.]

Well, that gave me so much confidence, but what have we got at the moment?

Four years or so on—five years after day one of that commitment—the Post Office is losing substantial sums of money, post offices are closing at a record rate, and there are worrying levels of inefficiency. Massive redundancies are coming. A national strike was narrowly averted, and the Director General of Postcomm was warned off introducing any form of competition.