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.

Alert me about debates like this

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

That is absolutely correct. I compliment the hon. Gentleman on his very good point.

There is a nasty parallel, as other Members have said, between the closure of ATMs and the closure of bank branches. In just a short time—can you believe this, Sir Henry?—we will have only one bank branch in the whole huge county of Sutherland, which is 2,028 square miles. Imagine what that means for my constituents. There are, however, already examples of banks working together to form one-stop shops in southern conurbations in England. I call on the Government and the Scottish banks to do something similar for rural areas such as mine in Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.

I must give due credit to the Minister. We had a constructive meeting care of Caroline Flint the other day. I believe that the Minister is on to the issue and is working well towards sorting it out, so I wish him godspeed. If we do not get it right at Government or bank level, it will be a fundamental failure and we will be letting down the poorer, as other Members have pointed out, and the elderly who absolutely rely on having 24/7 access to cash.