§ Mr. Alasdair Morgan
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many claimants receive(a) retirement pension and (b) other benefits from post offices in each Scottish parliamentary constituency; 
(2) what estimate he has made of the number of pensioners and other benefit claimants who do not have bank accounts; and what assessment he has made of the impact on such claimants of his plans to pay benefits directly into claimants' bank accounts; 
(3) what estimates he has made of the number of (a) retirement pension claimants and (b) other benefit claimants within Scotland who do not have a bank account, broken down by parliamentary constituency. 
§ Mr. Rooker
The information requested is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is as follows.
As at 31 August 1999, the total number of customers in receipt of Retirement Pension and Widows Pension in Great Britain, receiving their pension through the post office was 5.6 million.
As at 31 August 1999, the number of customers in Great Britain in receipt of benefits (other than Retirement Pension and Jobseeker's Allowance) receiving their benefit through the post office was around 11.6 million.266W
Estimates of the number of benefit claimants who do not have a bank account vary widely. From information available, the number of retirement benefit recipients who do not have a bank account is estimated to be in the region of 10–20 per cent. The number of other benefit recipients without a bank account is estimated to be in the region of 20 per cent.
We have decided to move to automated credit transfer (ACT) from 2003 as a modern, more secure and efficient method of paying benefits. People are increasingly choosing ACT as their preferred method of payment. The Benefits Agency and Post Office Counters Ltd. will be working together to build on this trend to ensure that, from 2003, ACT offers an attractive choice to benefit recipients, opening up access to a wider range of banking and other financial services, while continuing to offer access to cash at post office counters.