§ 14. Gregory Barker
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many sub-post offices have closed since 1997; and what representations she has received regarding the future of the sub-post office network. 
§ Ms Hewitt
Post Office Limited has advised me that the number of net closure of post offices since end March 1997 is 1,667. I receive representations on the future of the post office network from numerous sources. The Government are committed to the maintenance of a nationwide network of post offices.
§ 20. Sir Nicholas Winterton
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the future of rural postal services. 
§ Ms Hewitt
Rural postal services are safeguarded by the universal postal service obligation which the government laid down in primary legislation in the Postal 1083W Services Act 2000. The legislation says that the obligation consists of a service provided at an affordable price determined by a public tariff uniform throughout the UK and includes the delivery each working day to the home or premises of every individual in the UK and a collection each working day from access points. Under the Act it is the Postal Services Commission's (known as Postcomm) primary duty to ensure the provision of a universal postal service and it currently requires Consignia, in the licence, to provide the universal postal service.
§ Mr. Hancock
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which post offices in the Portsmouth, South constituency Consignia is planning to close; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Ms Hewitt
The programme to restructure the urban post office network has not yet started and I am advised by Post Office Limited that, until it does, there are no specific plans for post office closures in the Portsmouth South constituency. When the programme starts it will be taken forward in consultation with individual subpostmasters, the community, local stakeholders and Postwatch. Under the Code of Practice, Post Office Limited is required to consult Postwatch on individual changes and is briefing it on the process envisaged for reaching decisions.
The objective of the urban network restructuring programme is to provide modernised and improved facilities which meet customers' needs and expectations and are in the right location for the local community.