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

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Young, for his comments. I wholeheartedly agree with him about how the order has come out. Our first priority is to make sure that the victims are compensated and justice is speedily done.

The second part—which, I am afraid, will take longer—is a thorough analysis of what actually happened and why, over many years, there was a persistent type of activity and a culture in an organisation that was classified as an arm’s-length government body: who should have done what, and at what time. Of great importance is the role of the “state”—and I say that in inverted commas, because I am not trying to play party politics here. I am afraid that many people in this House over many years had positions of responsibility that should have enabled a higher degree of inquiry than clearly took place.

How do we make sure that these organisations function properly, and how can we make sure that government officials, Ministers, and so-called independent directors and other directors of these organisations behave in the right way to ensure that they are run properly, and we do not see a repeat of these activities? It is very important that we have a broad and wide debate. That is why it is always very important that we regard the untrammelled power of the “state” with great suspicion.

I refer briefly to the noble Lord’s comments in relation to Fujitsu. As I understand it, we are looking to work with Fujitsu on how it can assist in compensating victims. I think that conversation is ongoing, but at the end of the day, it is the inquiry that will allow us to decide what to do next. It is absolutely without question that there are people who need to be held to account for these actions over the past 15 or so years. I am grateful for this prompt; this will continue to be a part of the process.