Postal Services Bill

Part of Planning (Developer Bonds) – in the House of Commons at 4:59 pm on 27th October 2010.

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Photo of Alan Reid Alan Reid Liberal Democrat, Argyll and Bute 4:59 pm, 27th October 2010

Those are completely different examples. If the question arose in the hon. Gentleman's constituency of allocating public funds to a scanner for his local hospital, to the troops in Afghanistan or to a sorting machine for his local sorting office, I think a survey would establish that the scanner and better equipment for the troops in Afghanistan would rank high in the pecking order. Because Royal Mail is operating in a competitive market, it is important for it to secure private sector expertise. The health service is a national health service for the whole country, which is why it should be in the public sector.

It was the last Government who introduced competition to the mail business in their Postal Services Act 2000. However, the structure that they created allowed private companies to cherry-pick the most profitable parts of the business, while leaving Royal Mail to deal with the expensive part-delivering to remote parts of the country. Royal Mail is now suffering as a result of the unfair competition created by the last Government's regime, and I am pleased that the Bill will allow Ofcom to remove much of that unfair competition.

Under the last Government, all that we saw was worsening service. Opposition Members seem to have forgotten that. It was not the fault of the postal workers, but the fault of the competition regime that the Government had created. Mail is now delivered much later in the day than it used to be, Sunday collections have been abolished, and stamp prices rise every year by far more than the rate of inflation. Worst of all, thousands of post offices have closed. I was delighted by the announcement today of a vital £1.3 billion of new funds for the Post Office.