14 January 2009
Business secretary Lord Mandelson has supported the conclusions of a report by an independent review panel led by businessman Richard Hooper which advised selling 25% - 33% of Royal Mail to a foreign buyer. The current pension fund debt, which may deter potential investors, would first be taken on by the government.
The proposals have already proved highly controversial. It is estimated that up to a hundred MPs would take part in a backbench rebellion if the current plans went to a vote without modification. Jim McGovern MP has resigned his post as private secretary to postal affairs minister Pat McFadden in protest. And the Communications Workers Union has stated that it will disaffiliate from the Labour Party in the event of any form of privatisation.
The proposal also contradicts Labour's manifesto commitment to a "publicly owned Royal Mail."
Prospective Green Party Euro-MP for Eastern Region, Councillor Rupert Read said today:
"We strongly oppose any privatisation of Royal Mail. The Green Party has long campaigned against transferring essential public services to private hands.
"The Royal Mail is a cherished and trusted national institution first established as a public body by Oliver Cromwell. Even Margaret Thatcher thought it should remain publicly owned.
"Privatisation benefits big business interests, not consumers. We have seen this in the NHS, BT and the railways, to name a few instances. A report by Postwatch, the consumer watchdog, has failed to find any significant benefits to individual users from the 'liberalisation' of the postal service.
"Private companies will cherry-pick the most profitable parts of the organization which currently fund essential but unprofitable services like rural collections, leaving the public to pick up the bill in the future and leaving Eastern Region with a poorer service.
"To call for the part-privatisation of a major British institution at a time when the dangers of 'the market' have been so clearly exposed in recent months is clearly madness. The substantial job losses called for by this report are the last thing our struggling economy needs at the moment.
"Royal Mail has announced an impressive new environmentally-responsible method of business mail. This is a great example of what a public service provides and I am concerned that a privatised postal service would not come up with such innovative ideas."