Post Office Governance and Horizon Compensation Schemes Debate

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Department: Department for Business and Trade

Post Office Governance and Horizon Compensation Schemes

Baroness Brinton Excerpts
Wednesday 21st February 2024

(5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Offord of Garvel Portrait Lord Offord of Garvel (Con)
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This is very straight- forward. If I am appointed as the new chairman of a company in this situation and, of my three priorities, the No. 1 is to manage a legal process to get compensation quickly to postmasters, I would expect to be told that formally by the Permanent Secretary and to be held accountable to manage those costs effectively. That does not mean to minimise or delay; it means to manage the process effectively to get compensation to the postmasters. What has been put into the public domain makes it very clear that there has been no dragging of feet and no instruction to the contrary on this matter.

As we have discussed many times in this Chamber, we now have a full statutory inquiry. The judge, Wyn Williams, will pick through this in fine detail. We are all very impatient and frustrated because we want the answer now, but we got into this mess because we jumped the gun before, and we are not going to do so again.

Baroness Brinton Portrait Baroness Brinton (LD)
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My Lords, I return to the question from the noble Lord, Lord Arbuthnot, about where the £1 billion sits. If it comes from the Treasury, would it be in the Green Book following the Autumn Statement? It was all agreed by then. If it is not visible in the Green Book, can the Minister please write to the people speaking on this Statement to say where we might find it? It should be visible from the moment it was agreed, which was well before the Autumn Statement last year.

My second question, going back to the point raised by my noble friend Lord Fox, is about the bullying claims. I find it slightly extraordinary that in one part of the Statement the Secretary of State says it is important that she does not go into details, yet suddenly she alleges bullying—which, as the noble Lord, Lord McNicol, has pointed out, is not in the Written Statement. It is really important to understand when the allegations of bullying came about and the process that must now be under way to investigate them. You do not sack somebody without an investigation having got under way. If you do, that is the most appalling error of judgment. Can the Minister please confirm when and how Staunton was informed of the bullying complaint and whether he has been contacted by an investigator?