It is a pleasure to speak in this debate. I congratulate Ged Killen on bringing forward an issue that is important for every one of us here. It is a particularly important issue for me, as I have fought for ATM retention in many places across my constituency, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, mostly due to bank closures. I will use the time available today to do that.
For those who hail from a rural constituency, the availability of free-to-use ATMs is essential. The hon. Gentleman and Kirstene Hair have both outlined the importance of that. In recent times, bank closures have severely affected rural communities, particularly those in my constituency, where I think we have had seven bank closures. I live on the Ards peninsula, and the effect of the closures on the rural community is intense. When the banks close, often no ATMs are retained because the building is sold and there is nowhere to put it, which is very frustrating. My hon. Friend Mr Campbell made a salient point: whenever the banks move out of the villages and toward the town centres, the business moves with them, meaning that villages and small places come under intense pressure.