The Knight’s Days column – reporting back from Westminster with Sir Greg Knight MP

ATM charges impact disproportionately on those people who can least afford to pay, namely those on low incomes.
ATM charges impact disproportionately on those people who can least afford to pay, namely those on low incomes.

There are few things more irritating than finding you need some cash and the only machine available has a charge, which can vary from 95p to £1.99 per transaction.

These charges impact disproportionately on those people who can least afford to pay, namely those on low incomes.

Sir Greg Knight MP.

Sir Greg Knight MP.

The situation is being made worse by the closure of many bank branches and the accompanying decrease in the fees that banks pay to the ATM machine providers.

This has caused more machine operators to convert from free to use to pay to use.

Approximately 2.7 million people in the UK rely wholly on access to cash to live and research shows that lower-income families and older people are hit the hardest by the lack of a free-to-use cashpoint.

This situation clearly needs looking at.

It is a fair point to argue that customers should never be charged for merely accessing their own money.

The good news is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond agrees and he has just announced plans to investigate the problem.

Moving from one Philip to another, the late Philip Astley is not exactly a household name, but he is widely regarded as the father of the modern circus.

He introduced what he called ‘an entertainment experience’ including music, trained animals, acrobats and clowns, way back in 1768.

He was a decorated war hero who had a flair for self-publicity and his travelling show of trained animals and stunts soon became popular.

Although Mr Astley never used the title of ‘circus’ for his shows, he invented the format we are now all familiar with, comprising a ring, or circular display area and a clown to fill in the pauses between the other acts.

The displaying of exotic animals in a pre-internet, pre-television age, enabled the British public to marvel in awe as they saw at close hand wild creatures which were, until then, never before seen by most people in the UK.

Today, widespread international travel coupled with the internet, films and television, bring exotic creatures from all over the world into our living rooms.

We also now have a more enlightened attitude towards the treatment of wild animals.

It is therefore understandable that in Parliament, the Government has introduced the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill, which stipulates that, from next year, wild animals will no longer be permitted as part of a travelling circus.

The new law, which has been welcomed by politicians of all parties, complements other recent measures, such as the ban on ivory sales to protect elephants and strengthens still further the UK’s position as a world leader on animal protection.