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Financial Inclusion

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 10th December 2009.

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Photo of Ann Winterton Ann Winterton Conservative, Congleton 10:30 am, 10th December 2009

What recent assessment he has made of levels of financial inclusion in rural areas.

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Photo of Dan Norris Dan Norris Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

DEFRA works hard across Government to ensure that all Departments take account of specific rural needs in their policies. Indeed, I met with my colleague in the Department for Work and Pensions only last month specifically to discuss rural issues.

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Photo of Ann Winterton Ann Winterton Conservative, Congleton

Picking up a point made by my hon. Friend Sir Nicholas Winterton, who has pinched yet another question of mine-the problem is that we both come from the same stable-may I reiterate that approximately 200,000 people living in rural England do not have access to broadband facilities? Would that not aid financial inclusion as it provides access to valuable information, online banking, credit union services and other such services?

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Photo of Dan Norris Dan Norris Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Perhaps the hon. Lady should have some more interesting pillow talk than it appears she is having- [Laughter.] She is right: digital communications are crucial in rural areas as well as in urban areas. They make a big difference not least in access to banking and other important services and facilities. We are working hard on that issue and putting extra resources into it, including moneys from heads for which I have specific responsibility.

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