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Mr. Heath: Until latterly, we had rather a good debate. [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] Any debate which has the spokesman for the Conservative Opposition standing at the Dispatch Box and supporting collectivism and workplace ballots and expressing suspicion of the CBI shows that we live in a topsy-turvy world.

I am grateful to all those who expressed opinions in the debate, particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Teignbridge (Richard Younger–Ross) who did a good job describing the difficulties that small businesses will experience. The hon. Member for Mid–Worcestershire (Mr. Luff) talked about the law of unintended consequences and my new clause assisting post offices, but that was certainly not an unintended consequence. It was absolutely the intention of my new clause not only to extend choice but to protect the sub-post office system.

What are we to make of the Minister's response? She said as her parting shot that she would write to me at length and I look forward to the letter with great expectations. Other than that, her argument seems to be a simple assertion: she does not like our amendments, so they are daft. She says that with all the authority of the Treasury Bench, and we know how desperately clever the Treasury is at producing briefings on these amendments. She says ex cathedra that because she does not like the new clause, she does not believe it to be sensible or that it will work.

The Minister adduces an argument that the new clause would restrict payments only to those that could be made through a sub-post office and that it would restrict choice. I have looked again at the Bill. I see no change to clause 23 other than the paving amendment which we propose to allow for new clause 2. I see no change to clause 24 which provides the powers that she says are now curtailed. The new clause provides only an entitlement to receive the cash over the counter in a post office. That seems a perfectly sensible and proper proposal.

The Minister asserts, secondly, that the universal bank will be in operation in April 2003. I desperately hope she is right, but I am sick and tired of hearing Ministers assert with no evidence that the development of the universal bank is anything like at the stage it should be if it is go live in April 2003. If it is not, the mechanisms in the Bill will be inadequate and the Minister has no plan B. That may be of no great concern to the Government or the Inland Revenue, but it is of enormous concern to people who need that facility through their post office and to those who are trying to make their businesses in those post offices work, but who will not have the income they desperately need to maintain the network.

For those reasons I reject the Government's simple assertions and seek the advice of the House on the merits of new clause 2.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 170, Noes 252.

7 Feb 2002 : Column 1089

Division No. 164
[4.23 pm


Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John
Barrett, John
Beggs, Roy
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Mrs Annette L
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burnside, David
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, John
Cable, Dr Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Cameron, David
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Carmichael, Alistair
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Doughty, Sue
Duncan, Peter (Galloway)
Duncan Smith, Rt Hon Iain
Ewing, Annabelle
Fabricant, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London)
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Francois, Mark
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibb, Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hammond, Philip
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Hendry, Charles
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark
Holmes, Paul
Horam, John
Jenkin, Bernard
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, Rt Hon Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lansley, Andrew
Laws, David
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell–Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr Andrew
Oaten, Mark
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mark
Pugh, Dr John
Randall, John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Angus (Moray)
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Salmond, Alex
Sanders, Adrian
Simmonds, Mark
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Richard
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Dr Richard (Wyre F)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Trend, Michael
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Weir, Michael
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Wishart, Pete
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

John Thurso and
Richard Younger-Ross.


Ainger, Nick
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bell, Stuart
Benn, Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Rt Hon Nicholas
(Newcastle E & Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Burgon, Colin
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Cawsey, Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Rt Hon Charles
(Norwich S)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Field, Rt Hon Frank (Birkenhead)
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hurst, Alan
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Laxton, Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Andrew
Luke, Iain
Lyons, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Margaret
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Hara, Edward
O'Neill, Martin
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Perham, Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, Dawn
Quin, Rt Hon Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Joan
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Shipley, Ms Debra
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Todd, Mark
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tynan, Bill
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mrs. Anne McGuire and
Mr. Ian Pearson.

Question accordingly negatived.

7 Feb 2002 : Column 1091

7 Feb 2002 : Column 1092

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