§ 24. Mr. Stephen O'Brien
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to assist rural sub-post offices. 
§ Mr. Alan Johnson
The Government are making a substantial contribution to the costs of automating the entire post office counters network to strengthen the viability of the network as a whole. Automation will enable Post Office Counters Ltd. to offer substantial enhancements to the services it is able to offer to clients and customers which in turn will increase the attractiveness of post offices compared with other service delivery channels. In addition, the Performance and Innovation in the Cabinet Office is carrying out an urgent study on the post office network. Various rate relief schemes already apply to many rural post offices.