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Santander Branch Closures

Volume 654: debated on Wednesday 20 February 2019

10. What recent discussions he has had with representatives of Santander on that bank’s proposed branch closures in Scotland. (909261)

Bank branch closures are commercial decisions; they are not for the Government. However, we do recognise the difficulties that they bring. That is why we are committed, among other measures, to banking facilities within a Post Office network—[Interruption.]

Order. A lot of noisy, private conversations are taking place. That is unsound on two counts. First, it is rather a discourtesy to a senior member of the Government and, although he seems modest about it and unperturbed, I am not. Secondly, it means that the House is deprived of the joy of listening to the Minister’s mellifluous tones. The Minister is welcome to continue, at a suitable pace, with his answer.

Thank you very much indeed, Mr Speaker. I was concluding by saying that we are fully committed to the 11,500 post offices up and down the United Kingdom, most of which provide banking services.

Santander will be closing 15 branches across Scotland, including in Lanark in my constituency. People and businesses across Clydesdale depend on this service, which cannot be delivered by post offices. Will the Secretary of State call a halt to these closures?

As I have already outlined, these are commercial decisions to be taken by Santander and other banks. We have supported the access to banking protocol, which sets out clear measures that banks must take when they do close branches, to ensure that local customers are supported.

As my right hon. Friend said, some of these decisions are commercial ones, on which the Government cannot intervene. However, they can intervene more on the Post Office side. Will he meet me to discuss access to cash and the campaign that Which? is running, as well as how we can support the communities impacted by bank closures, such as Comrie and Alloa in my constituency?

I gently point out that the issue extends beyond the particular bank branches with which the hon. Member for Lanark and Hamilton East (Angela Crawley) is concerned. If, however, there is a sudden outbreak of unexpected shyness and reticence, the House will note that. It is a most unusual state of affairs: when previously there were significant numbers of Members bobbing up and down, with a view to taking part—

Will the Minister, since he has been so generous in agreeing to meet hon. Members, agree to meet me to discuss protecting the Santander branch in Parkhead and telling the bank to save our Santander?

We are grateful to the hon. Member for Glasgow East (David Linden) and to the Minister for his characteristically pithy reply. We are much obliged to him for it.