It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I congratulate Ged Killen on securing the debate and on introducing it so well. I was delighted to agree to be a co-sponsor when the hon. Gentleman applied for the debate to the Backbench Business Committee, and I am grateful to that Committee for granting it.
I will divide my comments into two parts. First, it is abhorrent that we should be charged to take our own money out of ATMs. There are still a few in Moray that charge for use. If I come upon one, I will actually go away to another. It might end up costing me more in money, time, fuel and inconvenience, but out of principle I would rather go to another destination than pay a company to access my own money. It is simply unacceptable that, in 2018, we still have to pay some companies to take out our hard-earned money. My constituents in Moray are particularly aggrieved about that.
However, I will focus my remarks on the availability of ATMs in high streets and rural communities, as the motion mentions. ATMs have been critical to many communities in Moray for several years, particularly in Lossiemouth and Keith. A couple of weeks ago, Bank of Scotland announced the closure of eight branches across Scotland. Some are in the constituency of my hon. Friend Kirstene Hair, but 25% of those eight are in Moray—one in Keith and one in Lossiemouth. As well as potentially closing the branches next year, the bank will also remove the ATMs.
In the 2011 census, the population of Lossiemouth was just over 6,000. That has now boomed to more than 7,000. The P-8s are coming to RAF Lossiemouth in one of the biggest UK Government investments in our defence estate, which will boost personnel numbers at the base alone by 400, and those personnel will bring their families with them as well.
The town is expanding at an excellent rate, which is encouraged by the local community, yet Bank of Scotland has decided to close its very last branch in the town. With that it will take away the ATM, so a town with a population of more than 7,000 that is expanding will go from three ATMs to two ATMs. One of those is in the local post office at Buckley’s, which is up for sale. If it is sold and that ATM is lost, we could have a population of more than 7,000 and only one cash machine. That is simply unacceptable and cannot be allowed to happen.