HC Deb 26 November 1973 vol 865 cc13-4
13. Mr. Gorst

asked the Minister for Posts and Telecommunications if he will issue a general direction to the Post Office not to engage in competition with the private sector of the telecommunications industry in those spheres relating to the supply of goods or services in which prices are fixed below the economic market level and thereby constitute an abuse of monopoly through the use of loss-leading practices.

Sir J. Eden

No, Sir. The pricing of its services is primarily a matter for the Post Office, under the terms of Section 31 of the Post Office Act 1969 and within the price code.

Mr. Gorst

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are figures which show that the Post Office is pricing private communications systems between 20 and 40 per cent. below the prices charged by private industry and that this demonstrates either that private industry is grossly over-pricing its products or that the Post Office is using loss-leading methods to capture markets from private industry through unfair competition? Does not this constitute a practice into which the Minister should inquire?

Sir J. Eden

If my hon. Friend has a particular case in mind to illustrate his point, I should be grateful if he would send me details and I will look into it.

Mr. Dalyell

Are not the Government passing by on the other side of the road on this tricky question? Is it really not their business?

Sir J. Eden

I should certainly wish to ensure on behalf of the taxpayer that the Post Office is properly costing its operations.