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Post Office Network — [James Gray in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:56 am on 10th March 2020.

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Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows SNP Whip, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Disabilities) 10:56 am, 10th March 2020

I thank everyone who has taken part in this debate, whether through interventions or speeches. I do not want the Minister to take this personally, because I could have said it innumerable times to many other Ministers, but we do not just want to hear kind words from the Government. We do not want the Government to say, “We will press Post Office Ltd”; we want the Government to tell us what they are going to do. That was missing quite a bit from the Minister’s response.

I want to pick up on one thing. It seems as though where the Government find that Post Office Ltd is making a profit, that is fine—everything in the garden is lovely; we are moving forward and the Post Office is doing really well, because it is making money—but how much money will the Post Office be making when the full cost of the Horizon scandal hits? It is not just about the people who have been taken to court and whose cases are going through the criminal court review procedures; it is about the people who paid the Post Office money because they did not want to be prosecuted, and who were harassed and harangued into doing that. It is about the cover-up. The Government cannot sit back and let the post office network flounder because of the great cost coming down the line for the Post Office as a result of Horizon.

That does not even cover things such as franchising. Franchising is not good. It has been proven, especially where Crown post offices are franchised, that franchising leads to expertise being lost: people leave, there is a reduction in the services provided and everyone loses out. I honestly hope that the inquiry that the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee is carrying out prods Ministers into effort and deeds, instead of kind words. Post offices need to be kept, and they need to prosper. We need them to support our communities.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House
has considered the post office network.