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Post Office Closures

Part of Opposition Day — [7th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 1:37 pm on 19th March 2008.

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Photo of Alan Duncan Alan Duncan Shadow Secretary of State 1:37 pm, 19th March 2008

I shall give way to hon. Gentlemen in a moment. I want to make a couple of important points first.

I am extremely concerned, as are hon. Members in all parts of the House, about the way that the compensation is working. It is all very well to offer a postmaster compensation in the hope that he will not face financial adversity, should the post office shut, but that compensation attaches only to the post office. As I have already said, many of those enterprises run in parallel with a shop. What is deeply pernicious is the way in which the Post Office is setting terms and conditions on the compensation in a way which, as well as closing the post office, will also destroy the shop.

What the Post Office is doing, which I think amounts to a restraint of the trade of shopkeepers, is saying that if they take the money for closing down the post office counter, they will be prohibited thereafter from doing certain things in the shop. They will not be allowed to sell lottery tickets. They will not be allowed to conduct certain transactions which, in the eyes of the Post Office, might technically compete with it. They will not, for instance, be able to install a PayPoint terminal, which is a revenue-earning service for the shop, but competes with the Post Office. So in offering compensation, the Post Office is effectively putting a restrictive covenant on trade that could be enjoyed by the shop. [Interruption.] Rob Marris says, "Standard business practice". If he thinks it is standard to be so irresponsible, let me tell him that I do not.

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Roy Cottee
Posted on 22 Mar 2008 2:06 pm (Report this annotation)

Offices already exist where the business also deals with Paypoint. Clearly the Post Office has agreed to this so it would be wrong to remove the ability now, for Offices forced to close, to look to these companies where they believe they can continue to provide services that POCL don't wish to support.