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Royal Mail

Business, Innovation and Skills – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 13th January 2011.

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Photo of Katy Clark Katy Clark Labour, North Ayrshire and Arran 10:30 am, 13th January 2011

Whether arrangements for the privatisation of Royal Mail will enable it to discontinue the use of post offices in favour of other outlets.

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

Royal Mail and the Post Office are natural partners with a strong existing commercial relationship. As the House heard yesterday, the chief executive of Royal Mail, Moya Greene, has said that it is "unthinkable" that that will not continue after the separation of Royal Mail and the Post Office.

Photo of Katy Clark Katy Clark Labour, North Ayrshire and Arran

The Minister will be well aware of the huge concern in the country over the implications of the privatisation of Royal Mail for the post office network. Will he give a simple assurance that not a single post office-not no outlet, but no post office-will close as a direct result of privatisation?

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

We had this debate yesterday and I answered that very question. I made it clear, as did Ministers in the previous Government, that it is impossible for a Minister to say that no post office anywhere in the country will close, because 97% of them are run by private individuals, who may decide to sell up or retire. That cannot therefore be required. However, we will not repeat the major closure programmes of the previous Government.

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker Conservative, Worcester

I recently met the management of the Black Pear credit union in Worcestershire, who warmly welcomed positive noises from the Government about the idea of credit unions working with post offices. Will the Minister update us on the progress that the Government are making with that idea and on the other opportunities he sees for post offices to expand their business in future?

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

We are certainly doing that, as we set out in our post office policy document last year. There is a pilot in Glasgow and south Lanarkshire in which pay-out technology is being used in co-ordination with credit unions, and guidance has been given to sub-postmasters about how they can work with their local credit unions.

Photo of Hugh Bayley Hugh Bayley NATO Parliamentary Assembly UK Delegation

Hundreds of post offices up and down the country are temporarily closed. If the Minister is really committed to not having closure programmes such as we have seen in recent years, what is he doing to get those post offices reopened, and when will the post office on Walmgate, in York, reopen?

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

In my constituency, when I was in opposition and the last Government were in power, a post office was temporarily closed and I worked with Post Office Ltd to get it reopened. We succeeded; the hon. Gentleman should do that.