Postal Services Bill

Part of Planning (Developer Bonds) – in the House of Commons at 2:05 pm on 27th October 2010.

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Photo of Vincent Cable Vincent Cable The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 2:05 pm, 27th October 2010

I will finish this section, then I will take the intervention from the right hon. Gentleman, who I know was a Minister and had close involvement with this matter.

Some Members of the House will say that Royal Mail can modernise and survive while remaining in the public sector. They will say that Government can provide the funding that Royal Mail needs, and that the modernisation agreement in place between the union and the company is sufficient to stave off the decline in the market. That is not a view that I share. I did not share it in opposition and I do not share it now, nor is it shared by Richard Hooper or the company.

Let me be clear. The Government are the wrong shareholder for the company. Given the Government's financial constraints, we cannot invest enough quickly enough, we cannot invest flexibly enough, and every investment that we make has to be cleared by the European Commission under state aid rules. Richard Hooper is also clear that Royal Mail cannot modernise properly, and cannot take the decisions that it needs to take, while it has the threat of political interference hanging over it.

Private sector capital will bring with it private sector disciplines, which will allow the company to modernise faster to keep pace with the changes in the market. As the last Minister with responsibility for postal services wisely said:

"Unless modernisation happens, the company will be ill equipped to deal with its challenges."-[ Hansard, 11 February 2009; Vol. 487, c. 1452.]

The Bill will therefore lift the restrictions that currently exist on the sale of shares in Royal Mail.