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Post Office Closures

Part of Deferred Division – in the House of Commons at 3:50 pm on 19th March 2008.

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Photo of Ian Cawsey Ian Cawsey Labour, Brigg and Goole 3:50 pm, 19th March 2008

It is an honour to follow Mr. Paice. We normally end up debating the future of pigs, so it is nice to move on to another subject, even if it still begins with the letter P.

When the announcement was first made some months ago, I was a Government Whip. It is good to be able finally to stand up in the Chamber and make some comments about how the decision has affected Brigg and Goole. I am reminded of the first time I stood for election in 1992 in the old Brigg and Cleethorpes seat—unsuccessfully, I hasten to add—against the Tory MP Michael Brown, who is now my good friend. One of the big issues was post office closures. It seems almost like groundhog day; here we are, still discussing it—[Hon. Members: "More pigs!"] There will be no more pig analogies. That is the end of it.

Thousands of post offices have been closed under Conservative and Labour Administrations. They would probably be closed under a Liberal Democrat Administration, too, if there ever was one. As Alan Duncan candidly said, we cannot control everything in the way that we would perhaps like to.

Let me tell the House something about the experience in Brigg and Goole and how it has been handled. We are at the end of the process now and we were in the first tranche that was announced. When the announcement was made, it was proposed that Westfield Avenue post office in Goole, which is an urban post office, would be closed, and that the rural post offices in Reedness, Wroot, West Butterwick and Eastoft would change to outreach. We then went into the consultation.

A lot of hon. Members have said that the consultation was a complete sham. I would say that it was a curate's egg in some respects. It is very difficult to understand how some of the decisions were finally reached, even though some of them were definitely improvements on the original proposals.

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