§ Mr. Lilley
We are committed to continuing to give pensioners and others the right to receive their benefits at the post office. We are moving speedily to an automated system for paying benefit at post offices, including the introduction of benefit payment cards to replace order books and girocheques.
§ Mr. Sims
Does my right hon. Friend accept that, while there are obvious advantages in making payments through banks and building societies, some people—particularly the elderly—prefer to go to post offices to collect their pensions? Will he confirm that the automated system to which he referred has been welcomed by sub-postmasters and will bring them additional business?
§ Mr. Lilley
My hon. Friend is right. Many pensioners and others prefer to receive their benefits at post offices. Many do not have bank accounts so they could not easily have their benefits paid elsewhere. My hon. Friend is also right that the measures that we have proposed have been warmly welcomed by the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters. By eliminating fraud, our proposals will be good for the taxpayer. By making payments more convenient, they will be good for the pensioners. By increasing the range of facilities of sub-post offices, they will strengthen the national network of sub-post offices.