During a debate on the Post Office, Brooks Newmark intervenes to call for a 'framework for the future' of the Post Office. The Government should implement joined-up thinking in relation to DVLA, TV licences, etc.
Mr. Brooks Newmark (Braintree) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that our Post Office service is at tipping point? We need a framework for the future. We want to see joined-up thinking, whether it has to do with the DVLA, television licences or whatever. That is all we are seeking from the Government.
Mr. Bellingham: My hon. Friend is right. It beggars belief that, with this organisation, which has a vast network that is the envy of any competitor organisation-it is the largest retail network in Europe-the Government are not able to show a little more imagination, innovation and common sense.
Mr. Newmark: Does the hon. Gentleman not agree that although the Government talk a big game-they talk about financial and social inclusion-their actions support the exact opposite? Many elderly people do not have the opportunity that the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty) has to go online to buy their licences. We face the challenge of social and financial inclusion, and the Government are not doing anything about that.
Mr. Leech: I agree that the Government talk a great deal about post offices but do little other than systematically remove business from them. As a result, it is increasingly difficult for sub-post offices to secure a long-term future. Similarly, it has been made more difficult for Crown post offices to be profitable in future. Post Office bosses admitted to me that one reason that they chose to privatise Chorlton post office was that the Government's decision to end the Post Office card account in 2010 will remove more and more business. Some sub-postmasters have suggested that the end of the Post Office card account will effectively be the final nail in the coffin. In Chorlton in my constituency, Merseybank estate is among the top 5 per cent. most deprived areas. The sub-postmaster there says that he has serious concerns that if the Post Office card account ends in 2010, he will not be able to make a living. It will be a major blow not only to him, but to all the people who collect their money at the post office through the POCA, and who use that money in the few remaining shops in the area. Those shops will face closure if the post office is closed.