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Mrs. Betty Williams (Conwy) (Lab): Is the Minister aware that when the Post Office writes a letter of decision to Members of Parliament, the last paragraph contains the customer helpline telephone number and a website address, in case Members need to know any more about the decision?

Mr. Timms: I would be grateful if my hon. Friend would let me see the letter that she is referring to.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North referred to the steps that we have taken in the programme in relation to deprived urban post offices. I understand that to date in the Stoke-on-Trent area there have been four applications to the fund that was launched by my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister in December 2002. That involves a £15 million scheme, called the deprived urban post office fund, specifically designed to support post office branches that are invaluable to the community in disadvantaged urban areas throughout England. Under the scheme, individual grants of up to £50,000 are available to sub-postmasters.

Of the four applications that have so far been made to the fund from the Stoke-on-Trent area, two have been approved: an application for £45,000 from the Milehouse lane branch, which is in the Newcastle-under-Lyme constituency, just north of Stoke-on-Trent,

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and one for £49,323 from the Normacot road branch in Stoke-on-Trent, South. A more recent application from the Sneyd Green branch in my hon. Friend's constituency is currently being assessed, as is the application from the Beverley drive branch in Stoke-on-Trent, Central.

We are investing very substantial sums in supporting this transformation of the entire post office network—some £2 billion in total. We have established a strong

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management team at the Post Office and I believe that the prospects are good. However, it is vital that there should be sufficient public confidence in the arrangements for consultation about the urban reinvention programme. I am grateful to my hon. Friends for raising their concerns with me.

The motion having been made after Ten o'clock, and the debate having continued for half an hour, Mr. Speaker adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

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