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Clause 79 — Guarantees where postal administration order is made

Part of Dairy Farming – in the House of Commons at 6:28 pm on 12th January 2011.

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Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 6:28 pm, 12th January 2011

I cannot tell the hon. Gentleman how delighted I am to be able to give him that reassurance. It was a slip of the tongue.

Some people have concerns about the wording of our amendments, which ensure that Her Majesty's head will be on our stamps in future. I can assure hon. Members that, under section 10 of the Interpretation Act 1978, "Her Majesty" can be taken as

"a reference to the Sovereign reigning at the time of the passing of the Act" and construed as applying to any future Sovereign, so people should not worry about that.

May I turn to the Post Office? There has rightly been a lot of debate about the impact of the Government's proposals on the network of post offices. First, I want to be absolutely clear that we are talking about a sale of shares in Royal Mail, not in the Post Office. They are both cornerstones of British life, but they are different businesses facing different problems, and that is why separation has been so widely supported by the experts. Of course, their futures are closely linked, and we expect that they will always have a strong commercial relationship, but securing the future of Royal Mail will of course help to secure the future of the Post Office as the natural outlet for purchasing Royal Mail services.

I shall say again something that I have said many times before. There will be no programme of post office closures under this Government. I have been very clear on that, as has my right hon. Friend the Business Secretary. That is why we have pledged £1.34 billion of funding to support the post office network, funding that will ensure the continuation of at least 11,500 post office branches throughout the United Kingdom.