Royal Mail — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:40 pm on 16th December 2008.

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Photo of Lord Clarke of Hampstead Lord Clarke of Hampstead Labour 3:40 pm, 16th December 2008

My Lords, I have questions, but I declare my interest as a former postman. Six years ago, this House had an opportunity, which it rejected—the Government rejected it—to take steps in regard to the Post Office, but today the final nail is being driven into the coffin of a once-great public service. What I said all those years ago has sadly been proved correct. Once, my Government, the Labour Government, decided to destroy the Post Office by the introduction of a biased regulator, as was said at the time—that is not hindsight—that sealed its fate and resulted in them getting rid of a great public service.

I ask my friend—I have got that wrong—I ask the Minister whether he agrees that if our Government, and for that matter the previous Government, had had the courage to allow our postal service to charge something like the postal rates charged in other parts of Europe, we would be in a much better position than we are today. Did not this and the previous Government interfere with the tariff and pricing policies of the Royal Mail, which is part of the Post Office? We are subsidising the competitors. Will my noble friend—I suppose he is my noble friend and I have to say that because of the customs of this House—even at this late stage, with a strike looming in the north-west, bring in some meaningful negotiations, get rid of the man who has cost the Post Office and Royal Mail £8 million in six years and get on with running the business as it should be run?