Labour MPs were today urged to rebel in protest at plans to close 2,500 post offices across the country.
Shadow business secretary Alan Duncan said 90 Labour MPs, including seven Cabinet ministers, had campaigned against proposed closures in their own constituencies.
Opening a debate, he said: "I would urge them to vote with us so they can prove that they are honest and consistent."
The consultations on Post Office closures, designed to ensure a network exists which offers widespread access, were angrily derided by Tories. Mr Duncan said they took no account of local geography and were based on "out of date" census figures.
He said the closure programme was being "rammed" through and "community is being pitted against community" in a bid to keep their branch.
"We have reached the absurd position where someone phoned up the Post Office and said: 'Excuse me, why is my village post office closing?' to which the answer given was 'because the postmaster wants to retire'. 'That is not true,' said the caller. 'I know it, I am the postmaster'."
Tory Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold) said the consultation process had been "underhand" and Conservative former minister Tony Baldry said it was "wholly fraudulent".
Mr Duncan said the fact that so many Cabinet ministers were campaigning to save their local branches "made a mockery" of the principle of collective responsibility.
"Collective action has driven through collective responsibility," he said
Business Secretary John Hutton himself had considered campaigning against closures "in his own back yard", Mr Duncan claimed. Mr Duncan called on Mr Hutton to suspend the closure programme "to give much hope to many hard-working postmasters whose enterprise, hard work and service to their community deserves better than they are getting from the Government".
Mr Hutton said there was an "inescapable fact" that had to be accepted, "however difficult" - the role of the Post Office had changed because of technology and consumer behaviour.
"These have both combined to reduce very substantially the numbers of people using their local sub-post offices and increased substantially the losses being incurred by the Post Office."