§ Mr. Grieve
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what powers he has to require the Post Office to keep open(a) rural and (b) urban sub-post offices; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Byers
[holding answer 16 January 2001]: Under successive Governments, no Minister has had the power to require the Post Office to keep open sub-post offices. However because of this Government's commitment to the network, the Post Office have accepted a formal 235W requirement to maintain the rural network and to prevent any avoidable closures of rural post offices placed on them in my letter dated 17 November to the Chief Executive.