Post Office (Review)

Oral Answers to Questions — Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st December 1975.

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Photo of Mr Alastair Goodlad Mr Alastair Goodlad , Northwich 12:00 am, 1st December 1975

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will publish the terms of reference of the review of the Post Office.

Photo of Mr Gregor Mackenzie Mr Gregor Mackenzie , Rutherglen

My right hon. Friend has already done so. I would refer the hon. Member to his reply of 12th November to my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding).

Photo of Mr Alastair Goodlad Mr Alastair Goodlad , Northwich

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the terms of reference which have been published do not allow any review of the activities of the Post Office outside the scope of the Post Office Act 1969? Will he undertake to publish new terms of reference that allow an objective review of the benefits or otherwise of the continuation of the Post Office monopoly in its present form, and the advantages or otherwise of allowing private enterprise to compete with the Post Office in certain of its activities, stating whether this would be to the public benefit?

Photo of Mr Gregor Mackenzie Mr Gregor Mackenzie , Rutherglen

We have heard that one before. The terms of reference were drawn up in consultation with a number of people, of whom it was the Post Office Users' National Council who made the original recommendation to us.

On the question of the monopoly, I can only give the answer that I have given from this Box on many occasions before—that if one wants to have a wide-ranging national service, this can be provided only by the Post Office, whereas the groups which the hon. Gentleman may have in mind can provide for only a limited profit-making service.

Photo of Mr Raphael Tuck Mr Raphael Tuck , Watford

While we are on the subject of the Post Office, may I ask my hon. Friend why he will not give a general direction to the Post Office to allow old-age pensioners to send their Christmas cards at about 4p or 5p? Does he realise that it is impossible for old-age pensioners to send their Christmas cards at the present rate?

Photo of Mr Gregor Mackenzie Mr Gregor Mackenzie , Rutherglen

My hon. Friend is anticipating a Question that he has tabled later on the Order Paper. All I can say is that it is not a matter that will be discussed by the review body, though I am sure that the members of that body will note my hon. Friend's interest.