Post Office Legislation - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 3:46 pm ar 14 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Johnson of Lainston Lord Johnson of Lainston Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade) 3:46, 14 Mawrth 2024

The noble Lord will have his moment; he will definitely be next, I am sure of it.

My thanks go to my noble friend Lord Arbuthnot. As we all know, a huge amount of thanks should go to him for his tireless efforts over many years. It is a huge lesson for all of us who want to make a difference in public life to see someone like him battle away at the forces of the machine. He has given me personally a great deal of inspiration and I am grateful to him also for the way that he has handled debates such as this and for the sensitive and thoughtful way that he has approached these complex subjects.

On the matter of claimants who have had their appeals refused or who, not being part of this scheme, have been unable to go forward to appeal, I have listened to that comment and will have further conversations with my colleagues about what we can do to ensure that the right level of information is given to those people to enable them to assess their position in the process. Noble Lords must forgive me, I am not a lawyer and there may be some specific issues around this, but I am told that those who have not been able to go through to appeal are not prevented from appealing again. It would strike me that, given the situation around this whole process, the system would certainly bear this in mind. I cannot speak on behalf of the courts; it is essential that they retain their independence on that front.

I was interested to hear my noble friend’s suggestion of support for those individuals, in terms of legal advice, or whatever it may be. I will certainly take that back to the department and I would have thought it would receive a very sympathetic hearing. My noble friend is absolutely right that it would be very unfair if there was a small section of individuals who lost out on this process simply because they had tried to appeal before their peers had done so. That would not be right and it is worth looking into in some considerable detail.