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Post Offices

Volume 476: debated on Monday 2 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) if he will make it his policy to compensate the Post Office network in full for the services of general economic interest provided by it; and if he will make a statement; (206748)

(2) what estimate he has made of the level of services of general economic interest provided by the Post Office network; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what discussions he has had with (a) the European Commission and (b) his European counterparts on the level of services of general economic interest provided by the Post Office network.

[holding answer 21 May 2008]: On 17 May 2007 my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced an investment of £1.7 billion to sustain a national Post Office network. This package recognises the important social and economic role played by post offices in the communities they serve and reflects the breadth of Government interests in the network.

Accordingly, on 8 November 2007, I entrusted Post Office Limited with the provision of certain specific services of general economic interest under the terms of a letter to its managing director, Alan Cook. The specific services are set out in the annex to that letter. I have today arranged for a copy of the letter to be placed in the Library of the House. Compensation for the provision of these services up to March 2011 is included within the £1.7 billion investment announced on 17 May 2007.

The European Commission provided the approval necessary for the funding on 29 November 2007, following the submission of a formal notification on 28 June 2007, and certain consequent clarificatory discussions between officials of BERR and the Commission.