HC Deb 07 July 1981 vol 8 c378

Lords amendment: No. 57, in page 59, line 28, at end insert at the time when they are posted

Mr. Michael Marshall

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it may be convenient to take Lords amendment No. 58.

Mr. Marshall

Both amendments relate to the provisions on postal liability in clause 70, which amends the law in relation to the Post Office's liability for loss of or damage to letters and other postal packets. Subsection (3) amends section 30(4) of the Post Office Act 1969 to exempt the Post Office from liability if conditions laid down in its scheme are complied with.

Amendment No. 57 makes it clear that these conditions can relate only to things done before the packet is posted. For instance, the Post Office will be able to require a customer to obtain a certificate of posting before it undertakes the conveyance and delivery of a postal packet. It will not, however, be able to make production of the certificate a precondition of its being liable for loss or damage to the packet. The addition of the words in the amendment emphasises that the Post Office will be in a similar position to other suppliers of services, and I hope the House will agree that this is the right policy.

The purpose of amendment No. 58 is to ensure that the clause takes effect on the appointed day rather than at Royal Assent. The Post Office will not be able to publish a new scheme containing its terms and conditions of service, compatible with the modified section 30, until the Bill is enacted. In practice it would not be possible for this scheme to be published immediately after Royal Assent, if only because the exact date might not be known very long in advance. There would, therefore, be a danger of a hiatus when the law had been changed, but not the scheme made under it. This can be avoided by delaying the coming into force of the clause until some time after Royal Assent, as section 13 of the Interpretation Act will allow the Post Office to publish its scheme after Royal Assent but before the clause takes effect.

I am sure that the practicality of these amendments will be evident to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 58 to 62 agreed to.

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