Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today called on the government to “grasp the thistle” and review remuneration for Post Office subpostmasters and subpostmistresses. Speaking in an Urgent Question on bonuses paid to Post Office senior management, Mr Carmichael called for a cap in the gap between senior executive pay and remuneration for subpostmasters and subpostmistresses, to address growing concerns about the viability of smaller Post Offices.
Mr Carmichael said:
“It is surely apparent that the culture within the Post Office which allowed people at the top to spend millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to pursue an indefensible case has not changed, and while of course the victims of Horizon will be angry, so too will the thousands of subpostmasters and subpostmistresses across the country whose remuneration package is wholly inadequate.
“So here is an idea: why not set a cap on the maximum gap between the money paid to the subpostmasters and subpostmistresses delivering the service that the public rely on, and that paid to the Chief Executive?”
Responding, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Enterprise and Markets, Kevin Hollinrake MP said:
“I’m very happy to have further discussions with him. We want to make sure we have a sustainable network and it must be the case therefore that postmasters can run sustainable businesses. It is the nature of things that there has been a reduction in mail volumes and the frequency which any of us use Post Offices for different reasons. It is more difficult to be a postmaster today than it was a decade ago for example, but we are keen to ensure that there is a sustainable future for the network and the individual businesses that make up that network.”
Reacting after the exchange Mr Carmichael said:
“The minister is right – it is more difficult for local Post Offices to remain viable, particularly in rural and island communities. That is exactly why it is so important that the government grasps the thistle and ensures that pay for subpostmasters and subpostmistresses is enough to keep them operating for the years to come.
“As a publicly-owned company this is not a matter that can simply be left to the market. The number of people using Post Offices may be smaller than in the past but they remain essential services – the government must play its role.”