§ Dr. Cable
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the Government's target is for the number of Post Office card accounts to be operational in(a) 2003, (b) 2004, (c) 2005 and (d) 2006; what the estimated cost is to the Government of those accounts; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Stephen Timms
[holding answer 24 July 2002]:: The Government does not have a target for card accounts at the Post Office, rather there is an operating assumption of 3 million card accounts at the end of the benefit and tax credit migration period in 2005, but there will be no cap and no eligibility criteria. Numbers will build up over the migration period from April 2003 but the scale of that build up will depend critically on individual consumer decisions which are difficult to predict with any certainty. The Government has agreed contractual terms with the Post Office for the provision of the card account, the details of which are commercially confidential to the parties.