We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Post Office Closures

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:16 pm on 15th May 2002.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Richard Page Mr Richard Page Conservative, South West Hertfordshire 5:16 pm, 15th May 2002

I do not often have reason to praise and thank the Liberal Democrats, but I do so today. Under the auspices of Dr. Cable they have initiated debate on an important subject that will not go away; the House will return to it time and again until the Government of the day provide a solution.

In that spirit of generosity, which will not last long, may I turn to the Minister for E-Commerce and Competitiveness and even to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry? I do not blame the right hon. Lady for the mess that Consignia is facing—it is not the Government's fault. In politics, as we know, the guilty party often moves on and someone else is left to sort out the mess—[Interruption.] To set the minds of Liberal Democrats at rest, I acknowledge that many of today's problems actually started in the early to mid-1990s. I am not sure whether the Labour party had undergone its butterfly transformation to new Labour by then, but the House may recall that the then Labour Opposition, supported by between 12 and 15 misguided Conservative Members, resolutely blocked any move by the Conservative Government to introduce competition in our postal services. Let no one forget that: the Government were blocked from doing what was necessary. If we had taken that path in the early to mid-1990s we would not face our current difficulties.

The only crime that I could possibly lay at the door of the Secretary of State is that she may have agreed to the change of name to Consignia. My hon. Friend Mr. Waterson made a most important point: in any form of selling or marketing, the brand name is the most important thing. To throw away the name "Post Office" shows that someone has no grasp of what is needed to sell things in the modern world. Perhaps the Secretary of State or the Minister for E-Commerce and Competitiveness will tell us who pleads guilty to that crime.