Royal Mail sell-off gets green light

Postal Affairs Minister Ed Davey cited the rising threat of digital media and the urgency of modernisation for Royal Mail – claiming “doing nothing is not an option” – as the Postal Services Bill was approved yesterday with a majority of 81.
And MPs rejected calls to establish a ten year commercial agreement between Royal Mail and Post Office. Davey said that evidence presented by Postcomm, Consumer Focus and Richard Hooper, all supported the separation of Post Office and Royal Mail, and dismissed claims that without an inter-business agreement the Post Office would be under threat.
Nia Griffith, Labour MP for Llanelli, accused Davey of a “fundamental unwillingness to secure the future of the Post Office network”. Meanwhile Gordon Banks MP said that should TNT form part of the buyout, some remote areas could see service reduced to three days a week for financial reasons, as had happened in the Netherlands.
Concluding the debate, Davey said: “Despite some progress on modernisation, Royal Mail has not adapted sufficiently to market decline. Unless we take action, this will only worsen and Royal Mail’s position will become even more precarious. Doing nothing is not an option.
“This government is aware of the urgency and that is why we pressed ahead with this Bill so early in this Parliament. The overriding aim of this Bill is to protect the Universal Service. I simply don’t believe it is possible to protect that in the public sector any longer, at least not without ever-increasing levels of tax payer subsidy which even Lord Mandelson would have baulked at. Royal Mail needs to modernise. Its business is changing with the impact of the digital world.”
The Bill now moves to the House of Lords for final approval.

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