Treasury Committee Press Notice No. 2

Session 2004-05 1 December 2004


The Committee announced on 5 November that it would be conducting an inquiry into cash machine charges, looking at the principle of charging, the growth in the number of machines which charge, clarity in the imposition of charges and issues to do with financial inclusion and the location of machines.

The Committee has now arranged the following meeting, at which oral evidence will be taken from the witnesses indicated:-

Tuesday 21 December

At 9.30 am:
Consumer organisations: Which?, Citizens Advice, and National Consumer Council

At approx. 10.15 am:
LINK Interchange Network Ltd (LINK operates the UK's cash machine network)

The scope of the inquiry [as announced in press notice, 5 November]:

•    The principle of charging and the  trend towards charging: the principle of charging for access to funds through cash machines; and the increasing prevalence of machines at which a charge is levied (a recent report by the Nationwide Building Society has indicated that the number has increased by 40% in the six months to September);

•    Transparency: the clarity of presentation of these charges to the consumer (a) at the time of use of a machine and (b) in the period before there is a change in charging policy at a particular machine;

•    Financial exclusion and location: concerns over the impact that the spread of charging may have on financial exclusion and low-income households, examining whether there is evidence of very limited access to free machines (whether on high streets, in Post Offices, or other sites) in certain areas.

The inquiry will involve evidence from machine providers and networks, including the banks/building societies, the LINK network, the Post Office and some of the operator companies (to whom some of the banks have transferred some machines).

Evidence will be sought on whether transparency of charging is satisfactory, and whether there are problems arising from limitations on access to free machines in less affluent locations (taking into account that, given the amount of a withdrawal for a low-income account holder may well be lower than the average, the impact of a fixed charge will be proportionately higher). Issues will include how far existing codes of practice are enforced and whether they are sufficient.

Evidence will also be sought on whether recent trends in the provision of machines have any security implications.

This meeting will be preceded by a private deliberative meeting of the Committee to which the press and public will not be admitted. Meetings may be subject to last minute changes to or addition of witnesses.

The meeting will be held in a Committee Room of the House of Commons or Portcullis House. Those wishing to attend meetings should check the venue by contacting the House of Commons Public Information Office on 020 7219 4272 on the day before the hearing.

The Treasury Committee is a Select Committee of the House of Commons, appointed to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Treasury, the Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise and associated public bodies. All Members of the Committee are Members of the Sub-committee.

Rt. Hon. John McFall (Chairman), L, Dumbarton
Mr Nigel Beard, L, Bexleyheath and Crayford
Mr Jim Cousins, L, Newcastle upon Tyne Central
Angela Eagle, L, Wallasey
Mr Michael Fallon, C, Sevenoaks, (Sub-committee Chairman)
Rt Hon David Heathcoat-Amory, C, Wells
Norman Lamb, Lib Dem, North Norfolk
John Mann, L, Bassetlaw
Mr George Mudie, L, Leeds East
Mr James Plaskitt, L, Warwick and Leamington
Mr Robert Walter, C, North Dorset