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Post Office Network

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

In the consultation document, we set out the criteria not only in a national context. As I said, the figure that I gave is a national one, and I also said that the detailed figures for rural and urban areas have been set out. In rural areas, 95 per cent. of the population will be within three miles of a post office. What the hon. Gentleman says is absolutely right in respect of some areas, and I understand that that has been the situation for many years. The Post Office looks at postal districts, and I am pretty sure that the hon. Gentleman's constituency is but one of them. He will know better than I do—it is some time since I last visited Caithness—that many small communities there are some distance from a post office. That is perhaps inevitable when there are communities of perhaps half a dozen people; however, we are trying to take that into account in the consultation document, which specifically states that natural boundaries such a lochs and mountains—and even excellent salmon rivers—are taken into account.