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

Lord Mann 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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I absolutely agree that the Staunton issue is a distraction that none of us needs; it is certainly not in the interests of the postmasters and postmistresses, who want to see compensation paid and convictions overturned. As I said, the Ministry of Justice is working expeditiously to sort the overturning of convictions. As I have also said before in this Chamber, there will be serious ramifications regarding a number of matters that will come from the inquiry when it is finally published. I imagine that the matter about which the noble Lord has deep knowledge, the presumption that the computer is always right, will be one such. I imagine that will be taken forward following the inquiry.

Lord Mann Portrait Lord Mann (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, there is an additional group of sub-postmasters affected by this scandal: those who paid the money back because of the potential or actual reality of dishonour in the communities in which they lived and worked. A significant number did nothing about it and simply paid the money back. Under the coal miners’ compensation scheme in previous years, government ensured that every former coal miner was invited to claim back money they were owed. Will government ensure that every single postmaster and postmistress, or their family if they are no longer with us, has the opportunity to make the claim that they wrongly had to pay back money and felt obliged to do so to avoid what they saw as the shame and dishonour of being seen to be dishonest in their local community?

Lord Offord of Garvel Portrait Lord Offord of Garvel (Con)
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I can assure the noble Lord that that is exactly the objective. The words that have been used are about restoring all postmasters and postmistresses to the position they were in before this sorry saga happened. The Government will make full compensation when all claims are received. We rely on the postmasters and postmistresses to come forward with their claims and cases. As we stand right now, the cases of 78% of the cohort of victims—more than 2,000—have been settled in full. There is a process to allow further claims to come through and an appeal process designed by the advisory committee to do that. The objective is to leave no stone unturned and to make sure that all compensation is paid as quickly and timeously as possible.