Need to protect postal service

Speaking in a debate in the House of Commons Angus MP Mike Weir, SNP postal services spokesman, has called upon the UK government to take urgent action to protect the postal Universal Service Obligation.

Mr Weir said that privatisation of Royal Mail had been a mistake and led directly to the threat to postal services in rural areas of Scotland, such as Angus.

He emphasised the importance, not only to individuals but also to businesses, of having a reliable and cost effective postal service.

Mr Weir said:“The Universal Service Obligation is vitally important to rural areas of Scotland, not just to those who receive mail but also to the very many small businesses who operate in rural Scotland and rely upon the service to get their products to customers – the Internet is a two way street but only if we have a reliable and cost effective postal service and we are now told that that service is in real and imminent danger.”

“The danger to the Universal Service following the extension of competition with the privatisation of Royal Mail was entirely predictable, and indeed predicted. The only surprise is that it is happening so soon.

“Less than a year after their flotation, Royal Mail are finding that the brave new world of private enterprise is full of difficulties and the company are now seeking OFCOM to undertake an urgent review of the USO as it cannot guarantee that it will remain sustainable due to the impact of competition, with competitor companies cherry picking profitable urban routes.”

Mr Weir pointed out, however, that the options available to OFCOM were limited by the act and warned that one of the possible outcomes was a reduction in the terms of the USO from its current six day a week deliver everywhere obligation.

“During the passage of the act many of us raised the question ‘What happens if the company comes back and says it can no longer sustain the service?’

“Well Royal Mail has been privatised, the early investors have made their profits, and we may well be about to explore the answer to that question.”

“The UK government must make absolutely clear that the protection of the USO was an essential condition of that privatisation and whatever the outcome of any OFCOM review there will be no diminution of the USO”

“I do not believe that Royal Mail should have been privatised and that is something that we in Scotland will be able to put right after a ‘Yes’ vote in September. “