Post Office

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 5th April 1995.

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Photo of Kate Hoey Kate Hoey , Vauxhall 2:30 pm, 5th April 1995

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what recent meetings he has had with the Post Office to discuss its future. [16445]

Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine President of the Board of Trade

I most recently met the chairman and chief executive of the Post Office on 2 March.

Photo of Kate Hoey Kate Hoey , Vauxhall

As the Secretary of State has met the representatives of the Post Office, and does so regularly, when will he give the House and the country some idea of his vision for its future? Is he not aware that the Post Office desperately wants to be given commercial freedom within the public sector? There is almost united support for that idea in the country, and there would be support in the House, too, if legislation were introduced. Why will the right hon. Gentleman not make the simple decision to give the Post Office the opportunity to operate commercially within the public sector?

Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine President of the Board of Trade

Because it is not possible to have commercial disciplines in the public sector.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin , Colchester North

May I inform my right hon. Friend that when I ironically congratulated the leader of one of the Post Office unions in my constituency on the success of the anti-privatisation campaign, he confessed to me that he rather regretted having won that victory? Can we cease to tie our hands behind our backs in expounding the virtues of a privatised Royal Mail, and may we have an assurance that when we win the general election, at the top of our agenda will be a plan to set the Royal Mail free so that it can expand its markets throughout the world?

Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine President of the Board of Trade

My hon. Friend makes an important point. No one would be happier than I to see Royal Mail join the large number of other privatised industries that are winning battles for Britain across the world.