Minister says privatisation “urgent” as Bill returns to Parliament
Edward Davey has stressed the importance of privatising Royal Mail, as the Postal Services Bill returns to the House of Commons. The minister for postal affairs in the UK – who took up his role after election success last May – said that the company is in “urgent need for capital”.
The third reading of the Postal Services Bill will take place today (Wednesday), which will include details behind the privatisation of the operator, as well as the separation of Post Office Ltd. from the Royal Mail itself.
Once passed by the Commons, the Bill will be considered by the House of Lords.
Despite the move being met by opposition from certain political groups and the Communication Workers Union (CWU), Davey claimed that the Government is determined to secure the future of the businesses.
Davey said: “Two cornerstones of British life – the Royal Mail and the Post Office – are at a crossroads. Our policy is to break away from the years of decline and push ahead with plans which promise them both a brighter future.
“Royal Mail has a multi-billion pound pension deficit; is faced with rapidly declining letter volumes; needs much greater efficiency and has an urgent need for capital at a time when there are huge constraints on the public purse.
“The digital age is presenting the company with a different set of challenges – and only with fresh ideas, modernisation and more investment can Royal Mail really adapt and thrive in this new market.”
The minister also pledged that there would be no post office closure programme put in place – after the previous Labour government culled thousands of branches nationwide between 2007-8.
“We won’t repeat the previous Government’s post office closure programmes. The Post Office is not for sale. Instead we are providing £1.34bn of new funding and developing new reasons for customers to keep coming through the door,” Davey said.
He added that the Post Office has to “rise to these challenges and make the network even more attractive and convenient for shoppers – expanding new services for customers and small businesses using their local post office to drop off and collect parcels”.
Royal Mail has said it needs to go further and faster to innovate, modernise and adapt better to the digital age – that requires substantial investment, with the private sector being the obvious choice.
Moya Greene, Royal Mail Group’s CEO, stressed the importance of the relationship between Royal Mail and the Post Office. She said: “There is already a very strong and enduring commercial relationship between the Post Office and Royal Mail. It is clearly in the interests of us all that this strong relationship is maintained in the future. We are committed to securing as long an agreement with the Post Office as we are legally able to.”
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