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Post Office Closures

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:42 pm on 15th May 2002.

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Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry) 6:42 pm, 15th May 2002

The debate has proved that this was the right subject to discuss, and at the right time. There is clearly concern throughout the House about what is happening to postal services. My hon. Friend Dr. Cable set out extremely well the issues that we need to address, in a speech that was as inexorable as it was unanswerable. Indeed, we received no answers to it.

A number of other Members made excellent speeches. My hon. Friend Dr. Pugh described the damage done to communities by closures. My hon. Friend Mr. Carmichael spoke of the centrality of the post office to small island communities. There is, in fact, little difference in that respect between an island community and a rural constituency such as mine—or indeed urban areas, to which the sub-post office network is equally important. Mr. Weir made similar points on behalf of his constituents.

Members of other parties also made useful contributions. The hon. Members for South Ribble (Mr. Borrow) and for Conwy (Mrs. Williams) drew attention to deficiencies in management. That, I think, is self-evident: there have certainly been management failures in the Post Office. The hon. Member for Conwy was honest enough to say that ACT posed a real threat, which is our view as well. Mr. Lazarowicz took a rather more conventional line in respect of new Labour. He may have strayed towards complacency; we shall see whether his complacency is well founded.