Royal Mail Debate

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Ian spoke out on the floor of the House of Commons against the Tory LibDem Government and its plans for the Royal Mail during the Postal Services Bill debate.

Ian who is concerned about the long term implications such a move would have on the Royal Mail’s universal service and our local post office network said, “It is not inconceivable that a company such as Deutsche Post could buy Royal Mail. When such a transaction happens in Germany, the post office network is protected by law. As a result of the cost implications, Deutsche Post could run down our post office network to subsidise its post office network in Germany.

Prior to any sale or transfer of a post office company an agreement must be secured between the new owners of Royal Mail and the Post Office for either the suggested period of 10 years-or it could be for any number of years-in order to gain that transfer. Under the Bill, a privatised Royal Mail could break the historic link with the post office network and use another outlet such as Tesco.

The Government have shown complete ambivalence towards post offices in this process. Everyone has talked of the importance of maintaining the link and the inter-business agreement between Royal Mail and the Post Office in some fashion, to ensure that the post office network is maintained.  However, unless the Government make a strategic
decision to put business through the post office network, the future of the network as we know it will be in significant danger.

Tory and Lib Dem MPs were happy to use the Post Office for their own political ends when it suited them in opposition. The post office network was a political hot potato for many years in my constituency of Edinburgh South. It seems shameful that the Liberal Democrat party, which has made a living out of pretending to save post offices-now sits in judgment on Royal Mail and threatens many thousands of post offices, if not the entire network.

That the Government are not prepared to put a straightforward clause into the Bill to guarantee the future of post offices calls into question the logic of allocating more than £1.3 billion of taxpayers’ money to subsidise and refurbish them. The Government’s failure to take forward Labour’s plans for a people’s bank at the Post Office is yet another Lib Dem manifesto pledge broken. They are turning their backs on the very people out of whom they made political capital for many years. We must leave no stone unturned in looking to provide services through the post office network, so that it can survive this process. The black hole in finance that will come if the inter-business agreement is removed will make most post offices in this country unviable. We should look at every conceivable option to get as much revenue as possible into the post office network, because, as everyone in this Chamber knows, people love and enjoy the services that it provides.

In the Official Report, Postal Services Public Bill Committee, 11 November 2010 the Minster admitted that there will be no inter-business agreement going forward and that the post office network is essentially being hung out to dry by this legislation, along with the Royal Mail and tens of thousands of workers.”  Ian concluded, “I think we are in real danger of losing universality of delivery, a 6 day service and one of the last remaining public owned services that is much loved by the public.  We could even see David Cameron’s head on the stamps if the Queen decides not to allow any new private company to use her image.”

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