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Selling off the Queen’s Head

Toby Perkins explains why he voted against the Tory-led government’s privatisation of the Royal Mail in Parliament.

“My position, and that of my party is clear.  In Government and Opposition, Labour has opposed the wholesale privatisation of the Royal Mail, believing that both the Royal Mail and Post Office should at all times be publicly owned, giving the taxpayer an ongoing interest in the maintenance of the universal service obligation (USO) and an ongoing interest in the inter-business agreement between the Royal Mail and the Post Office, which is so essential to the Post Office network which keeps Britain running and upon which millions of small businesses rely.

Having passed the Postal Services Act 2011 to facilitate the full privatisation of the Royal Mail, the Government has now followed through on their commitment to fully privatise the Royal Mail by way of a share sale this financial year, with just 10% of shares going to Royal Mail employees.

Following this privatisation, the second largest shareholder in the Royal Mail now is the Singaporean Government.  Even Margaret Thatcher believed that “privatising the Queen’s head” was a “step too far” but her political children have now gone further and sold it off to foreign investors.

It is also remarkable that it is a Liberal Democrat Secretary of State who has driven this through and managed the process.

Having committed to this disastrous course of action, the ConDem government have then been utterly incompetent in pushing it through.  As Sky News have revealed JPMorgan accountants told the Government earlier this year that it believed Royal Mail could be worth between £7.75bn to £9.95bn, including its debts, ahead of privatisation.

Probation debateDespite this, the Government sold shares in Royal Mail for 330p each earlier this month, valuing the company’s equity at £3.3bn.  This potential under-valuation of upto £6bn, which could have been spent on other government services like schools, hospital and the armed forces, has rightly become a media scandal.

The reason the Tory-led Government is rushing to a firesale of the Royal Mail is to raise funds to cover the gaping hole in George Osborne’s failed economic plan which has seen borrowing increase by £245bn more than the Government planned.

So Cameron & Osborne are playing politics with the postage stamp and putting their own interests ahead the interests of consumers and small businesses the Royal Mail serves.

At this time, Labour cannot commit to renationalisation if we get into government in 2015  – it would be the equivalent of writing a blank cheque without considering the consequences.  However, there are a number of steps which a future if we are elected we have committed to.

On entering Government, we have committed:

  • to secure the Universal Service Obligation beyond 2015.  A future government could change the USO and Ofcom will be reviewing the needs of customers in 2015
  • to prioritise the future of our Post Office network by working to ensure Royal Mail services continue to be provided through Post Office beyond 2022 – the Inter-Business Agreement (IBA) end in 2022
  • to ensure an appropriate degree of price control (of stamps) over a privatised Royal Mail
  • to address the fact that other postal service operators are not subject by the regulator to the same high performance and service quality standards as Royal Mail.”

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I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

Contact Toby

Tel: 01246 386286
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF


I hold regular surgeries for my constituents.
Please call 01246 386286 or email to make a booking.

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