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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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