Postal Services Bill

Part of Planning (Developer Bonds) – in the House of Commons at 6:39 pm on 27th October 2010.

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Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 6:39 pm, 27th October 2010

I start by thanking Nia Griffith, and all the other hon. Members, for their contribution to today's debate. The quality of the debate is testament to the importance that this House attaches to two of Britain's great institutions: Royal Mail and the Post Office. May I particularly congratulate Jonathan Lord on his maiden speech? He may not be aware of it, but I visited a post office in his constituency to look at one of the pilots for our reforms. Will he send my regards to Mr Patel at the West End post office, who has certainly influenced my thinking?

Both sides of the House recognise the extent to which our constituents value Royal Mail's universal postal service. No one who witnessed the passionate debates over the previous Government's post office closure programme can underestimate how deeply communities across our country feel about their local post offices. That is why the Government feel so strongly about the Bill: we believe that what is at stake is no less than the very survival of the universal postal service and Britain's network of post offices. If we do not reform those two institutions, attract private capital and private sector disciplines into Royal Mail and tackle the underlying economic challenges to the post office network, their future in a digital world of e-mail and internet services is bleak.

Some Members wanted me to blame past management for all Royal Mail's ills. My hon. Friends the Members for Northampton South (Mr Binley) and for Southport (Dr Pugh), in particular, wanted me to criticise the quality of the management in the past. I am not going to take up that kind offer. What I will say is that the current chief executive, who was appointed by this Government-Moya Greene, who came from Canada Post-is an excellent chief executive and is already taking the tough decisions that need to be taken. It is interesting that she and Royal Mail support the Bill. They know that we need to get capital into Royal Mail. They know that it needs to be released from Treasury control.