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Post Office Closures

Part of Deferred Division – in the House of Commons at 6:45 pm on 19th March 2008.

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Photo of Pat McFadden Pat McFadden Minister of State (Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) (Employment Relations and Postal Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 6:45 pm, 19th March 2008

I am afraid that I do not have time to give way again.

To give some sense of perspective, let me say that 99 per cent. of people will either see no change in the post office that they use or be within a mile of an alternative post office. If we followed the advice of Conservative Members by abandoning the access criteria and closing only the post offices that are least used, vast areas of rural Britain would be without post office provision at all, and those are precisely the areas that hon. Members say that they are interested in.

Some local authorities, for example in Essex—not in Swindon, unfortunately, despite the efforts of the local MPs—have expressed interest in taking over post offices scheduled for closure. We have said that the Post Office should sit down and discuss that seriously with those local authorities. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has written to the chief executive of Post Office Ltd today saying that that should happen, and if local authorities are interested they should have those discussions. The Post Office will expect to recover all costs, but that is a serious conversation that should take place.

On commercial freedom, let me quote the general secretary of the National Federation of SubPostmasters, who said

"why would the government want to use taxpayers money to give someone compensation for something that they are continuing to do".

They do not lose all compensation. An adjustment is made—

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