Postal Services Bill

Part of Planning (Developer Bonds) – in the House of Commons at 5:31 pm on 27th October 2010.

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Photo of David Anderson David Anderson Opposition Assistant Whip (Commons) 5:31 pm, 27th October 2010

I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman mentions the work force because I can now ask him, if he believes in the new politics, why not ballot the work force? If they say yes to privatisation, we will all shut up and go home. We will walk through the Aye Lobby if that is what the work force want-but I think he would be on a losser.

There are other examples. When we were telling Sid to privatise all the utilities, we were also creating the pensions mess that we are cleaning up today. The 13 years of pensions holidays under previous Tory Governments led to Royal Mail facing 38 years of paying back pensions. That is the main reason for today's comments about the public having to pick up the bill. As someone said earlier, we will get all the bad parts and the private sector will get all the good parts. That is exactly what happened with the coal industry: we privatised it and now we are buying coal from Ukraine and China. We put 200,000 miners on the dole, but that does not matter: it is the rigours of privatisation. The rigours of privatisation mean that 6,000 in China will be killed in coal mines this year, but nobody on the Government side cares about that. And what happened with the rail services? What happened with Railtrack? It failed. What happened with GNER and the east coast main line? They failed. What happened with east coast railways? They failed. The public sector had to come in and pick up the mess, and that is what will happen here.

We have also seen the development of markets in the health service. We had compulsory competitive tendering in the early 1990s-ideologically driven part-privatisation that meant that ordinary workers who had given their lives to public service were sent out to work for the Joe Bloggs cleaning company. We have seen it with foundation trusts and market-led rigours. What are they doing? The hospital in my constituency closed its laundry. Now, 5 million pieces of laundry have to be taken 140 miles, from the north-east to Leicester and back again, because it is cheaper. Those are the rigours of privatisation-forgetting the fact that 90 laundry workers have been sacked.

We shall see exactly the same thing with Royal Mail. It is clear what we can do in this situation. As I said earlier to Mr Buckland-he and I worked together for the Gurkhas-if he really believes that people want privatisation, he should be honest. Go out and hold a referendum: ask the work force what they think. When Royal Mail is no longer allowed to be called Royal Mail, it will no longer be allowed to put the Queen's head on stamps. The mail service will probably be subject to VAT.

It is clear that the public do not want the measure. The workers do not want it. The majority of people on the Opposition Benches do not want it, and the truth is that half the people on the Government Benches do not want it either, but they are being driven-