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Clause 79 — Guarantees where postal administration order is made

Part of Dairy Farming – in the House of Commons at 6:53 pm on 12th January 2011.

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Photo of Richard Fuller Richard Fuller Conservative, Bedford 6:53 pm, 12th January 2011

No, I do not agree. I believe that they do so because they have in their hearts a sense of public service, and the Bill offers a much better, more secure way for them to fulfil their sense of public service obligation by securing a stronger foundation for the Royal Mail Group. In addition, it contains groundbreaking provisions that extend the principles of employee participation and employee ownership, which are most welcome.

I know that I disagree with the CWU about Government ownership, and in its most recent note it listed some of the things that could happen under continued Government ownership. It stated that the Post Office could move to be more profitable, raise commercial loans or enable the relaxation of competition. Those things could happen, but they could have happened in the past and did not.

What is the legacy of Government ownership of the institution of the Royal Mail Group? It is a revolving door of, let us face it, not particularly competent management until the recent past; a crippling burden of unfunded pension liabilities; and a delay of more than 18 months in giving management access to capital. Those things have held back the Royal Mail Group, so Government ownership is not the answer. Mr Denham made the assertion, with which I do not agree, that the case for private ownership has not been made. I would say that the case for ending Government ownership has truly been made.

I believe that the CWU and workers now need to look forward at how we can use the Bill to extend further the principle of employee participation, and how we can continue to make it the groundbreaking legislation that many Members of all parties would like it to become. Let us ensure that employee ownership, which the Minister rightly said can be at a minimum of 10%, can truly be a model for how that principle should continue. The mutualisation of the Post Office should be thought through so that long-term business interests are secured when people put their own capital into a business to fulfil a service obligation to the people of this country.

Most importantly, as the Minister goes through the process of looking for the future owners of the business, with the participation of the CWU and the workers' representatives, it is crucial that he stresses that the management, with the unions, must secure another groundbreaking modernisation programme. That is an absolute pre-requisite if any future owner is to secure a bright future for the Royal Mail Group as it goes forward and meets the challenges of the years ahead.