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November 13, 2008 12:00 AM

Commenting on the oral statement from James Purnell MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, on the Post Office Card Account, Jenny Willott, Liberal Democrat Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary and MP for Cardiff Central, said:

"This Government u-turn will bring sigh of relief to thousands of Sub Post Masters and million of Post Office Card Account holders.

"However, cancelling the procurement exercise is very odd way of arriving at this decision and Ministers have some explaining to do. Why could they not just award the contract to the Post Office under the terms of the procurement?

"The suspicion is that the terms of the procurement contract, which the Government drew up, were written in such a way that it would have been almost impossible for the Post Office to win.

"The Government argues that in an economic slump, it is unacceptable to see over 3,000 post offices close and millions of vulnerable Post Office Card Account customers abandoned. But why did the Government consider this to be acceptable during an economic boom? What has changed?

"The Government has wasted time, money and caused immeasurable heartache by dragging this process out for so long.

"This all could have been avoided if, as the Liberal Democrats have long argued, the Post Office Card Account had never been put out to tender in the first place."