§ Mr. Paul Dean
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will give a breakdown of the extra business for post office counters to which the Secretary of State for Social Services referred during his statement in the House on 9 December on arrangements for the payment of social security benefits; and if he will explain how he will safeguard the sub-post office network.
§ Mr. Adam Butler
The Government and the Post Office believe that, on reasonable estimates, new and expanded business for post office counters will account for about 8 per cent. extra turnover over the next five years. Half of this should be new business—subject to Parliament accepting the relevant provisions of the British Telecommunications Bill and to the Post Office negotiating mutually acceptable terms with the bodies concerned—the other half should be an expansion of existing business.
The Post Office would be free to conduct new business in the public sector directly the Bill is enacted.
In his statement the Secretary of State for Social Services referred to possible new work for transport authorities and for the energy industries. The Post Office will also be looking for opportunities in other areas of the public sector. So far as the growth of business for existing users is concerned, the main areas for potential growth are in Girobank transactions; motor vehicle licence work for the Department of Transport; and in national savings work. In addition, the Government are examining with the Post Office some proposals for new business in sub-post offices, put forward by the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters.
The Government's firm objective is to enable new counter business to grow at a faster rate than the loss of DHSS business under their proposals in Cmnd. 8106 to ensure that there is sufficient counter revenue available to honour the Government's pledge that the sub-post office network will be safeguarded.