Last week, the House of Commons debated the main principles of the Bill and decided that it should go through to its second reading. The Bill has now been sent to a Public Bill Committee for scrutiny.
The Bill has already come under attack, after claims that it could potentially allow for the scrapping of the Universal Service. Critics believe this could mean the creation of a two-tier postal service, with rural deliveries made only three times a week to save money.
A Department for Business spokesman said: “This clause is a failsafe – a last possible resort. The action we are taking in the Postal Services Bill is to prevent this sort of scenario ever arising in the future.”
The Bill has four keys areas:
• The unrestricted sale of shares in Royal Mail, including a possible employee share scheme, and for Post Office Ltd to remain in full public ownership except for a possible move to a mutual ownership.
• Plans to transfer the Royal Mail pension deficit to the Government.
• Altering the regulatory regime for the postal services sector, including transferring regulatory responsibility from Postcomm to Ofcom, to maintain the Universal Service.
• Providing a special administrative regime to protect the continuation of the Universal Service should a privately owned Royal Mail (or other universal provider) be at risk of entering insolvency proceedings.
The Public Bill Committee is expected to meet for the first time on November 9 and complete its consideration of the Bill on December 9, sometime after which it will receive its second reading in the Commons.
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