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Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 12:24 pm on 14th December 2006.

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Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling Secretary of State for Trade and Industry 12:24 pm, 14th December 2006

The role remains vital and the access criteria that I set out, which are spelt out in detail in the consultation document, are entirely reasonable. But as the right hon. Gentleman would recognise, since the 1960s there has been a steady decline in the number of branches; we know that. However, even if all the proposals were implemented, there would still be about 12,000 branches—more than all the bank branches in this country put together.