Postal Services Bill

Part of Planning (Developer Bonds) – in the House of Commons at 2:05 pm on 27th October 2010.

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Photo of Vincent Cable Vincent Cable The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 2:05 pm, 27th October 2010

I will take interventions at the end of the next section of my speech. I have already given the hon. Gentleman answers to some of his questions.

Communities up and down the country have rightly been concerned about the shrinkage of the network over previous years, and despite the efforts of Opposition Members-notably the shadow Chancellor-there has been remorseless decline over the last three decades. The previous Government's closure programmes shut 5,000 post offices. I commend Members on both sides of the House who fought against those closures. Those days are over. I echo the words of Alan Johnson from some years ago:

"We had a choice. One was to continue to watch decline turn to crisis and crisis turn to collapse, leaving it as someone else's problem down the road."-[ Hansard, 15 February 2000; Vol. 344, c. 870.]

This Government do not believe in passing on the problem, so we shall fund the post office network, and when I say "fund" I do not mean setting aside millions to buy off sub-postmasters when we close their business.

The option of keeping the network on a care and maintenance basis and letting it decline is one we have rejected. I can today announce £1.34 billion of new funding for the Post Office over the spending review period. The funding will be used to reform the current network, to change the underlying economics, and so reverse the years of decline and secure its long-term future. I am grateful in particular to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury for his understanding, even in a tough spending round. I repeat, there will be no programme of closures under this Government and the Post Office will be able to invest, improve its offer and win new revenue streams.