§ Mrs. Golding
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) what study he has made of the annual report of the Post Office Users National Council; and what has been his reponse to the criticism of the short-term view taken by Her Majesty's Government in planning or approving Post Office forward strategy and investment;
(2) what has been his response to the concern expressed in the annual report of the Post Office Users National Council that the planned investment levels in the next few years are too low.
§ Mr. Butcher
It is primarily for the Post Office to plan its forward strategy and investment, consistent with the general framework within which the Government expect the business to operate, including the long-term strategic objectives and the financial and other targets which we have set. We have considered the criticisms of the 19W operation of the financial framework as it applies to the Post Office which the Post Office Users' National Council makes in its annual report. But, as the council is aware, most recently from my meeting with its chairman and secretary on 21 October, we do not accept the council's view, as set out in the report, that the arrangements for financing the Post Office are damaging and inappropriate to its long-term requirements.
However, I also indicated that the Post Office has not been constrained in recent public expenditure rounds from undertaking the level of investment that it considers necessary over the next few years.