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Post Offices

Volume 456: debated on Thursday 1 February 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many post offices are required under the Government’s proposed access criteria in each parliamentary constituency. (117751)

No such assessment has been made. Post Office Ltd. will be required to implement the necessary transformation of the network in accordance with the Government’s access criteria and with a maximum of 2,500 compensated sub-post office closures.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the distances referred to in The Post Office Network Consultation Document are measured as the crow flies. (117752)

The national consultation outlines the broad framework based on measuring the percentage of population within the radius of each post office. However, in implementing the proposals, Post Office Ltd. would take into account local factors affecting ease of access, such as rivers, mountains, valleys and sea crossings.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to allow diversification of services in Post Office contracts; and if he will make a statement. (117753)

The Government have been working closely with Royal Mail and Post Office Ltd. to ensure that it is able to deliver high quality services that customers want. This included £500 million investment in Horizon enabling the Post Office to develop its financial service business by opening up its counters to up to 20 million bank customers and becoming the UK’s leading provider of foreign exchange services.

The vast majority of post offices are private businesses, which are also able to pursue their own commercial interests.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how his Department defines (a) urban, (b) rural and (c) remote areas in the context of access criteria in the Post Office Network Consultation Document. (117766)

In relation to the Post Office Network Consultation Document, an urban area is defined as a settlement of more than 10,000 inhabitants. A rural area is defined as a settlement of less than 10,000 inhabitants. There is no departmental definition of a remote area as no access criteria proposals relate solely to “remote” areas.

Alongside the Government’s proposed national access criteria, is the criterion that 95 per cent. of the population in postcode districts should be within six miles of a post office service. Implicit in this criterion is a safeguard for people in remote areas who might otherwise not have been assured of reasonable accessibility to services under nationally-applied criteria alone.