Financial Exclusion: Access to Cash — [Sir Henry Bellingham in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:10 am on 21st May 2019.

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Photo of Jamie Stone Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Scotland), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Armed Forces), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Defence) 10:10 am, 21st May 2019

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Henry.

In my hometown we have an excellent fish man called Steve who comes all the way from Buckie to flog his fish, and his smoked haddock is to die for. Steve is also a political sage. When he predicts that an MP will lose their seat, he is usually right, so I am very careful of him. Steve takes cash for his fish. You could no more present your mobile or your card to pay by contactless than fly to the moon. For many years, having ready cash in one’s purse, wallet or pocket has been fundamental to a civilised society. If we do not have it, we might as well go back, at least where I live, to bartering and swapping a salmon for a bag of peats or something like that.

With the best will in the world, we cannot go entirely digital or contactless in a constituency such as mine. As Kirstene Hair has said, there are many areas where the iPhone and iPad simply do not work. In the case of my own Bank of Scotland card, it is already playing up, so it does not always get money out of a hole in the wall or work when I go contactless.

In my constituency we already have precious few ATMs. There has been talk of safeguarding them, but that is time limited. If a retail premises with a cash machine shuts, the shop goes, the cash machine goes, and no safeguard in the world can stop that happening.