HC Deb 17 May 1976 vol 911 cc929-30
1. Mr. McCrindle

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 Secretary of State for Industry (Mr. Eric G. Varley)

I have recently discussed with the Chairman the Post Office's proposal to increase its parcel tariffs. Following this, and in the light of the advice of the Price Commission and representations from the Post Office Users' National Council and other interested parties, I decided to abate the proposed increase from 25 per cent to 13 per cent.

Mr. McCrindle

Does not the Secretary of State agree that the parcel service, with high fixed costs, can only ever become viable if it attracts additional business? Next time he meets the Chairman of the Post Office will he suggest that a more aggressive marketing policy on the part of the Post Office in the parcel service would probably lead to a better situation than the Post Office continuing to complain because it did not get all its own way after the Secretary of State's intervention?

Mr. Varley

I know that the Post Office Corporation, the Chairman and others responsible are looking at ways of getting profitable business in its parcel activities. I am sure that they will bear in mind what the hon. Gentleman has said.

Mr. Ronald Atkins

Would it not make sound sense to co-ordinate the parcels division of the Post Office with the two other public undertakings which carry parcels, all of them at a loss?

Mr. Varley

There is a great deal of merit in what my hon. Friend suggests, although I am not making a commitment that this will be done. I know that he will be aware that in the consultative document on transport policy there was a suggestion that the whole public sector parcels carrying business should be looked at.

Mr. Tom King

In his discussions with the Chairman of the Post Office did the Secretary of State raise the proposal of the Post Office, now implemented, to cease Sunday collections? Is he aware of the widespread public concern about this decision, concern which is shared by the Post Office Users' National Council? Is he prepared to comment on this matter?

Mr. Varley

I recall that in our debate a few months ago the hon. Gentleman, or certainly some hon. Members opposite, urged the Government to call on the Post Office Corporation to make economies. I know that this matter has caused public concern. As I understand it, the Post Office Corporation will be reviewing the situation in a year's time.

Back to