LOCAL MP David Mundell says he is 'encouraged' by a Government pledge to help safeguard the UK cash system despite growing use of other transaction methods.
The Dumfriesshire MP was co-sponsor of a Commons debate in Westminster Hall in which he joined colleagues from around the UK in expressing fears that the country was 'sleepwalking towards a cashless society.'
There was cross-party concern amongst parliamentarians that the current Covid-19 pandemic was causing an acceleration of the trend towards a totally electronic currency system.
Mr Mundell pointed out that despite evidence that cash presents little risk of spreading coronavirus, the pandemic had created a stigma, partly responsible for a downturn in usage.
Referring to a steady decline in cash machines, he stated there were now fewer in the 1700 square miles of his Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale constituency than on, or just off, Victoria Street in Westminster.
“That imbalance is plain wrong and the industry must correct that,” said the former Scottish Secretary, who pointed out older and other vulnerable people suffered most as opportunities to use physical cash reduced.
During the debate MPs shared numerous instances in their constituencies where reduced traditional currency availability and acceptance was causing serious problems.
There were also concerns that increased reliance on electronic money and banking could leave the country more vulnerable in the event of cyber attacks and GPS satellite failures.
At the conclusion of the debate, UK Treasury Financial Secretary Jesse Norman pledged that the Government would bring forward legislation to protect access to cash 'in due course.'
Afterwards Mr Mundell, a long-time campaigner on the issue, said: "I'm encouraged by the Government confirmation that they will legislate but it remains important that this is done as a matter of urgency."