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Office card account when the card account holder appoints a Permanent Agent with limited access to the account. 
I understand from Post Office Ltd. that the Permanent Agent is issued with a separate card and PIN number from the Primary Account Holder for security reasons. It ensures that every time the Permanent Agent accesses the Primary Account Holders account it is noted on the account history for audit purposes. This is clearly important as the Permanent Agent can make cash withdrawals.
The Post Office card account has been designed as a simple account for the payment of benefits to individuals. It is not intended as a substitute for a current account and a joint account facility is not available on the Post Office card account. The Post Office card account is primarily for those who do not have, or choose not to use their current account, for whatever reason. However, access by someone other than the Primary Account Holder is incorporated as a facility as this is currently a vital component of benefit collection at the Post Office. Therefore, all card account applicants have the option of electing a Permanent Agent.
Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on how the principles of good regulation, set down by the Better Regulation Taskforce, of (a) proportionality, (b) accountability, (c) consistency, (d) transparency and (e) targeting are applied to Postcomm. 
The Department has co-ordinated two progress reports documenting advances made by Government and regulators against the BRTF's recommendations. They have been sent to the Cabinet Office for onward circulation to the Panel for Regulatory Accountability.
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transparent, with all key decisions fully explained in published documents: and appropriately targeted in relation to their statutory obligations.
Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if (1) she will take steps to strengthen Postcomm's penalty system for failure to achieve postal service quality targets; 
(3) to whom the financial penalty levied on Royal Mail announced by Postcomm on 30th September is payable; 
(4) if she will make a statement on the financial penalty announced by Postcomm on 30 September levied on Royal Mail for failing first class business service targets. 
Mr. Timms: The Postal Services Act 2000 establishes the framework under which the Postal Services Commission may impose financial penalties. It is for the Commission to decide on its policy within this framework, which was adopted in February 2002 following a public consultation. I consequently have no plans to commission research in this area. The Commission frequently liases with other industry regulators in the UK, as well as postal regulators in the rest of Europe on a range of postal regulation matters. The recent decision to impose a financial penalty on Royal Mail is a matter for the Commission and is still under a 28 day period for comment. Such financial penalties are payable to Postcomm in the first instance, and then transferred to the Treasury Consolidated Fund.
Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the terms of reference she has laid down for Postcomm to guide its duties, purpose and activities. 
Mr. Timms: The Postal Services Act 2000 ("the Act") sets out the purpose and duties of the Postal Services Commission ("the Commission"). The Act makes provision for the Secretary of State in certain circumstances to give directions and guidance to the Commission. On 14 March 2001, in exercise of her powers under section 41(1) of the Act, the Secretary of State gave directions to the Commission with regard to the provision of free postal services to blind and partially sighted persons. In accordance with section 43(2) of the Act the Secretary of State provided social and environmental guidance to the Commission on 22 March 2001.
Mr. Timms: I am advised by Post Office Ltd that data on post office numbers has not been maintained on the basis of County as the company does not require this data for operational reasons. However, I understand that since March 2000 the company has recorded details of post office closures on the basis of Government
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Region and in the West Midlands region as a whole, of which Shropshire is a part, the numbers of net closures were as follows:
I understand that Post Office Ltd produces information on post office closures on a quarterly basis. There were 23 net closures of post offices in the West Midlands region to the end of June 2003, the latest quarter for which figures are currently available.
In accordance with the Code of Practice on Post Office Closures and Relocationsagreed between Post Office Ltd. and Postwatch, the consumer watchdog for postal services, the company enters into consultation on all proposed closures. Postwatch are consulted on every post office closure proposal before a decision is made and there is every opportunity for those affected by a proposal, and the local MP, to make representations to the company or to Postwatch.
Diana Organ: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many sub-post offices have closed within the Forest of Dean constituency in (a) each of the last 12 months and (b) the previous five years. 
Mr. Timms: I am advised by Post Office Ltd. that data on post office numbers has not been maintained on the basis of local authority areas as the company does not require this data for operational reasons.
Mr. Timms: I am advised by Post Office Ltd. that data on post office numbers has not been maintained on the basis of county as the company does not require this data for operational reasons. However, I understand that since March 2000 the company has recorded details of post office closures on the basis of Government Region and in the West Midlands region as a whole, of which Gloucestershire is a part, the numbers of net closures were as follows:
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There were 23 net closures of post offices in the West Midlands region to the end of June 2003, the latest quarter for which figures are currently available.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if she will publish the classifications of sub-post offices in the Stroud constituency; and what discussions she has had with individual owners on that classification; 
(3) on what basis Cam Woodfield post office was classified as an urban neighbourhood post office. 
Mr. Timms: I have had no such discussions on this issue. This is a matter that falls within the operational responsibilities of Post Office Ltd. and I have asked the Chief Executive to reply direct to the hon. Member.
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