HC Deb 05 April 1976 vol 909 cc8-9
4. Mr. Newton

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what discussions he has had with the Chairman of the Post Office regarding the future of the parcel service.

The Minister of State, Department of Industry (Mr. Gregor Mackenzie)

My right hon. Friend and I are in regular contact with the Post Office about the future development of all aspects of the postal business, including the parcels service.

Mr. Newton

Does the Minister agree that the Post Office must be close to the point of diminishing returns in its proposals for yet further increased charges? Would it not be more sensible to await the outcome of the Carter Committee before allowing such huge further increases?

Mr. Mackenzie

We cannot halt everything that is going on in the Post Office until the Carter Committee has reported. The parcels service causes us all a great deal of concern and we want it to be viable, but I do not think that we should hold everything up until the Carter Committee reports.

Mr. Madden

In his talks with the Post Office, will the Minister express concern about the wave of closures of sub-post offices, particularly in rural areas? Does he agree that the closure of such offices, which are obviously important community facilities, is not in the best interests of the Post Office or of consumers?

Mr. Mackenzie

The question of sub-post offices is a vexed one, which has been raised many times in the House, but it is a matter for the commercial judgment of the Post Office. Neither my right hon. Friend nor I have power under the Post Office Act to interfere in matters of this kind.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

Will the Minister tell the Chairman of the Post Office that he does no service to the cause of consumer representation when he refuses to give the Post Office Users' National Council figures for which it asks to enable it to make a judgment on the latest round of increases?

Mr. Mackenzie

I am sure that the Chairman of the Post Office will take note of the hon. Gentleman's comments.