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Post Office Closures

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:55 pm on 15th May 2002.

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Photo of Mark Lazarowicz Mark Lazarowicz Labour/Co-operative, Edinburgh North and Leith 5:55 pm, 15th May 2002

The Minister will be aware that on many occasions I have raised with him problems with sub-post offices in my constituency and the postal services. He and many hon. Members present today will be aware that I have certainly not been slow to raise with Ministers, publicly and privately, concerns that have affected my constituency. Hon. Members speak up for local interests and try to resolve local difficulties as well as possible. But the difference between the approach that I and many of my hon. Friends try to adopt and that taken by some Opposition Members today is that, as well as trying to address some of the local problems and issues, we recognise that there have to be fundamental changes to the post office network and to postal services. Changes are taking place in the marketplace, in technology and in demand that cannot be simply wished away.

I listened closely to the carefully crafted opening remarks of Dr. Cable and read the Liberal Democrat motion, but at the end of the day I saw no real recognition that there are fundamental problems and changes that need to be addressed. Their approach today has been very much along the lines that something must be done and radical steps must be taken, but they are not sure what they are and there must not be any changes.

The Minister charitably suggested that the Liberal Democrats would not oppose the closure of some post offices, but the line that they have taken today and on other occasions has been to suggest that no post office anywhere in the country should ever close. If I do the Liberal Democrats an injustice I invite them to show me a single Liberal Democrat "Focus" newsletter anywhere in the country that has done anything other than condemn a sub-post office closure as outrageous, scandalous and attacking the fabric of the community. If I am being unfair and any of the diminishing number of Liberal Democrats here can show me such a leaflet, I shall be happy to give way to them.