Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today called on the government to follow up its judicial inquiry into the Horizon Post Office scandal with further efforts to support the long term success of local postmasters in rural and island communities. Speaking in an urgent parliamentary debate Mr Carmichael highlighted the damage done to the availability of postmasters by the scandal and the need to ensure the future of the network.
Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said:
“Can I welcome the progress we’ve made thus far in getting at least an element of judicial oversight of this inquiry. Like others I would remain sceptical about whether it will be sufficient, but will he now look at the damage that has been done to the availability of postmasters as a whole across the whole of the country? Communities like mine rely very heavily on them and it’s becoming more and more difficult with every month that passes to fill these very important positions.”
Responding, the Minister for Postal Affairs, Paul Scully MP said:
“I thank the Rt Hon gentleman and I can absolutely see the point. This may well be a contributing factor but there are plenty of other factors that actually make it difficult to recruit postmasters in areas, particularly in rural areas like his, but we will make sure that we do whatever we can to fill those places and keep that network up.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:
“I am glad that the government has listened to those of us who have been calling for a judicial inquiry on the Post Office scandal but this cannot be the end of the story. If we are to have a strong Post Office network in the isles for the future then ministers must work to make local branch management a secure and successful option for local people.
“Sub-post offices are vital parts of our communities and should be celebrated as such. It is to all of our benefit to ensure that postmasters can succeed now and in the future.”