BANKS would be banned from charging people to use cash machines if a parliamentary bid by a Scottish MP is successful .

Nearly 1,000 cash machines run by the Link network charge a fee in Scotland. Labour MP Ged Killen is set to introduce a bill at Westminster that would ban fees.

Killen said the charges, which are usually charge about £1.50 to £2 per transaction, would force more people into poverty. He said that people on low incomes often drew out smaller amounts on a more regular basis than the better off.

The MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West said fee-charging ATMs in his constituency were overwhelmingly located in poorer areas. This meant that those living there were more likely to have to pay to withdraw their own cash.

He also warned bank closures could lead to an increase in ATMs charging people. The Royal Bank of Scotland is planning to shut 62 of its branches in Scotland.

Killen said: “Banks are closing across Scotland with only their word that they will leave a free-to-use cash machine in a local community.

“I haven’t seen many bank closures in affluent parts of Glasgow and I am very concerned that we are sleepwalking into a situation where the most deprived areas have no free-to-use cash machines and that we will see ever-increasing numbers of ATMs that charge a fee.

“People who are on benefits are often paid smaller amounts on a frequent basis. Having to pay every time they want to lift out money to pay a bill will drive yet more people into poverty, forced to rely on foodbanks to get by.”

He added, "Charges on withdrawing cash have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable and those who have the least. That's why I'm actively looking at all options, including a 10-minute rule bill in parliament to ban charging ATM machines and protect free access to cash."

Killen's plans were welcomed by Citizens Advice Scotland. Spokesperson Keith Dryburgh said: "We welcome the proposal as an opportunity to assess the impact of bank closures and pay-to-use cash machines across Scotland and to encourage banks to ensure their customers are able to access cash and essential services."

Consumer advocacy group Which? said people should not be forced into using fee-charging ATMs.

Spokesman Gareth Shaw said: “Consumers are facing an uphill struggle to access free cash withdrawals, with the free-to-use ATM network now under threat on top of local bank branch closures.

“While some people might choose to pay for a convenient ATM, it’s important that free-to-use options are readily available for the millions of consumers who rely on them. Consumers should never feel forced to pay for access to their cash.”

However, John Howells, Link chief executive, said that the majority of its ATMs were free to use, pointing out that Scotland has 6,059 Link ATMs, with just 901 charging fees. He added that 85 per cent of its machines are free in Scotland compared to 79 per cent for England.