Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Speaking in the debate on the Queen?s Speech, Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, attacked the government?s plans to prop up the sub-post office network as lacking “credibility, transparency and probably legality?

    Peter Lilley said: “All those who want a widespread network of post offices to remain will take this issue to heart when the election comes. The future of the network will become a big issue. People will know which party when in government was hailed by the National Federation of Sub-postmasters as providing the best ever guarantee for the future of that network and which government ? this government ? undermined its viability fundamentally and lack all credibility in their attempts to disguise the fact.

    “The only reason the Post Office network is threatened with collapse is because the government plans to force pensioners, young mothers, disabled people and others to have their benefits paid into banks instead of via the post office.

    “The Secretary of State pretended that the ?550 million annual gap (left in Post Office revenues) could be filled by new commercial revenues.

    “He told us that the main solution would be a Universal Bank providing banking to the 3.5 million people who have no accounts.

    “It is not immediately obvious that the greatest commercial opportunities lie in providing banking services to the people who are least attractive to banks, who have therefore been ignored by them and who have the least money to deposit!

    “The original idea behind the Universal Bank was not to raise money but to provide a social service. Social services cost money. They do not earn money.?