§ Tim Loughton
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) rural and (b) urban post offices have closed in each of the last five years; and how many new ones have opened. 
§ Mr. Timms
In the last five years net annual figures for post office closures are:
March 1998 243 March 1999 233 March 2000 382 March 2001 547 March 2002 262
I understand from Post Office Limited that gross closure and opening/reopening figures, broken down between rural and urban post offices have only been available since April 2001. In the year ending March 2002, 371 rural offices closed and 177 rural offices opened/reopened and 114 urban offices closed and 46 opened/reopened.