HC Deb 21 April 1980 vol 983 cc19-21
15. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he is now in a position to make a statement regarding the conclusions of his review of the statutory monopolies enjoyed by the Post Office.

Mr. David Mitchell

My right hon. Friend will be making an announcement as soon as possible.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I am relieved to hear that, because my right hon. Friend was promising us a statement about the monopoly of the mails earlier this year. Can my hon. Friend assure us that when my right hon. Friend makes his statement he will take into account the fact that the Monopolies Commission has now concluded, as if we needed it to tell us, that the monopoly of the mails is acting against the public interest? Will the Minister draw the appropriate conclusions as soon as possible?

Mr. Mitchell

My right hon. Friend will, of course, have noted that point. As for the length of time that it has taken for this matter to be completed, it is complex and I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree that the implications of any decision must be considered carefully.

Mr. Armstrong

Will the Minister remember that any application of the free market philosophy to the Post Office without regard to the social consequences will bring great disadvantage to people in rural areas, particularly areas such as Weardale in my constituency, and that the Post Office must be retained as a great public service for the community and not be subject just to the free market philosophy?

Mr. Mitchell

I am sure that my right hon. Friend will take account of the comments by the right hon. Gentleman but also of the need, both in rural areas and elsewhere, for efficiency in the operation of the postal service.

Mr. Renton

Does my hon. Friend agree that the social consequences of getting mail delivered in rural areas within a day or two instead of 10 days or a fortnight as at present would also be beneficial? Is it his intention to allow private firms to go a little further and to bid for the handling of mail in inner cities and between big cities? Will that be done on a competitive tendering basis?

Mr. Mitchell

These are all matters for the result of the review, though my right hon. Friend will no doubt note what my hon. Friend has said. As for speeding up the process in rural areas, if there are examples of delays of as long as 10 days I hope that my hon. Friend will draw them to my attention or to that of my right hon. Friend.

Forward to