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 Mandelson Lord Mandelson Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform 3:40 pm, 16th December 2008

My Lords, I cannot speak on behalf of the principal union in the Royal Mail, but I hope very much that it will respond to the Hooper recommendations and the Government's responses to them in an open-minded way. I hope, too, that it will see that Hooper's motivation, like our own, is to secure the future of a publicly owned Royal Mail. We are not seeking to privatise the Royal Mail. It is not our desire to privatise, we do not intend to privatise, and we have no plans to change that intention. I hope, therefore, that that anxiety—or ideology, if you like—can be put to one side so that Hooper's recommendations are considered on their merits.

The noble Lord is right to pay tribute to the men and women who deliver our post, but they need appropriate skills, investment in automation, and the management and regulation that will enable them to do their jobs even better in the future. The sad fact is that, when compared with postal operators elsewhere in western European, the Royal Mail's introduction of automation is sadly lagging behind. There is a lot to catch up with, and we have to start afresh without further delay.