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Post Office Card Account

Volume 405: debated on Thursday 22 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and industry if she will make a statement on the redesign of the pin pad for Post Office card account cardholders. [114955]

The Post Office is working to ensure their services are as accessible to as many customers as possible. In the short term the Post Office intends to improve current PIN pads by fitting a guard over the buttons to help guide customers. I understand that this will be done as soon as possible. In the longer term they intend to look at technological options to provide a secure alternative to PIN pads for people unable to use them.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for Blaby, of 16 May 2003, Official Report, column 466W, on post office subsidies, when the Government expects to receive European Commission approval for the state aid announced in December 2002; and when post offices will start to receive these funds. [115369]

As I said in my reply to the question referred to by the hon. Member, the timetable for state aid clearance is a matter for the European Commission. DTI continues to work closely with the Commission to ensure that the questions and issues they raise are responded to as quickly as possible. We are confident we have a strong case and we hope to have approval in due course. The £450 million of support for the rural post office network runs from April 2003 to 2006. Post Office Ltd. will administer the fund within the guidelines and parameters set by Government.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of Postwatch in resolving Royal Mail customers' complaints. [114524]

When it was established in 2001 one of Postwatch's key objectives, agreed with the Department of Trade and Industry, was to provide more effective complaint handling performance. That performance is measured through an annual customer satisfaction survey.The details of the 2001 survey are published in the Postwatch Annual Report and Accounts 2002–03, a copy of which has been placed in the Libraries of the House. The 2002 survey results will be published in the Postwatch Annual Report and Accounts 2003–04, a copy of which will be placed in the Libraries of the House at the end of June 2003.