Postal Services Bill

Part of Planning (Developer Bonds) – in the House of Commons at 5:21 pm on 27th October 2010.

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Photo of Tom Blenkinsop Tom Blenkinsop Labour, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland 5:21 pm, 27th October 2010

I want to pose questions to the Government and to make some points, several of which have already been made, based not only on the general public's fear of what postal privatisation might mean for Royal Mail, but on why previous privatisations show that this privatisation and its minimum of 10% shares offered to current employees are not great enough or dynamic enough an offer to revolutionise how such a business could go forward in restoring, as Lord Young puts it, a "sense of ownership" for public sector workers. I want to ask why mutualisation of the Post Office has not been offered to Royal Mail, too, and to draw on the broader point that the Post Office and Royal Mail are inextricably and obviously linked and that their division weakens the service. I also want to show how the mutualisation of the one and the privatisation of the other will only ensure that both fail.

Historically, if we consider examples of previous privatisations of companies in the UK with fewer than 50,000 employees, none had a percentage of shares going to employees above 10% of all shares. That precedent of 10% shares sales to workers was set in 1987 by Rolls-Royce. Today, in 2010, the Royal Mail has 150,000 employees, more than three times that amount, yet the share sale proposed for staff is 10%. Why?

Why cannot the Royal Mail be mutualised alongside its Post Office sister? Why has that option not been considered to allow evidence-led policy? That proposition would allow better interdependent models of co-operation between Royal Mail and the Post Office. I remind the House that the Post Office depends on Royal Mail to provide it with one third of its revenue.

The National Federation of SubPostmasters is seeking a 10-year deal with Royal Mail, a deal that the Con-Dem Government will not guarantee as they have still not clarified if Deutsche Post or the Dutch-run TNT will take over, rather than have a proper stock market share float. Also, the findings of a recent UNI Post & Logistics study into postal services liberalisation throughout the world are not encouraging and should be considered to inform evidence-led policy.

Postal privatisation has already occurred in a number of countries. Normally, the national operator is transformed into a corporation and split into several companies. Privatisation then follows.