Privatised Royal Mail urges regulator to review competition

Westminster Member of Parliament for Na h-Eileanan an Iar Angus MacNeil says news that Royal Mail have made a submission to Ofcom calling for an early review of the workings of competition in postal services and the threat to the Universal Service are a further worrying development.

The SNP MP, along with party colleagues in Westminster, has long argued that the UK Government’s failure to properly support Royal Mail, which finally resulted in its privatisation last year, is fundamentally undermining the Universal Service.

The Universal Service ensures that delivery standards and prices are the same wherever items are posted in the UK. The single price point means that postage costs for businesses in our islands are the same as for businesses in large cities.

Local MP Mr MacNeil opposed the privatisation of Royal Mail and has repeatedly stated that the introduction of competition into the postal market results in cherry picking of the most profitable areas of the service at the expense of areas like Na h-Eileanan an Iar and other rural parts of Scotland.

Angus MacNeil MP said:

“People right throughout the islands have regularly contacted me in large numbers expressing concern over the future of postal services.

“Whether it is letter from Aberdeen to Aberystwyth or a letter from Tarbert to Edinburgh, Royal Mail customers can currently expect to pay the same price and get the same service. This Universal Service is a fundamental principle of our postal service and I have repeatedly stated that the UK Government’s policies on Royal Mail are undermining that important principle.

“The latest news that Royal Mail are now saying the same thing to the regulator simply confirms my long held views on this and highlights exactly why the Scottish National Party were opposed to the privatisation of Royal Mail. All of this was entirely predictable and we predicted it at the time.

“We made it abundantly clear that privatisation posed a real threat to the future of the Universal Service Obligation, which is of huge importance Na h-Eileanan an Iar. The Tories and Lib Dems dismissed this claiming the service was safe. These latest developments show that it is far from safe and when Royal Mail themselves are saying the service is in danger and urgent action is needed.

“The service is coming under threat because competitors are cherry picking easy, profitable urban and business mail services and are expanding rapidly in such areas. This undermines the ability of Royal Mail, the only company obliged to do so, to deliver the Universal Service Obligation.

“Royal Mail themselves say that the planned review in 2015 may well be too late to protect the service which shows how far things have gone since privatisation. The only remedy that is available is for Ofcom to look at the service, but in terms of the Act they then must make recommendations to the Secretary of State. It is important to realise that they are not obliged to make recommendations to cut back on private business but could make recommendations, for example, to reduce the terms of the USO.

“The Scottish Government have made clear that the Universal Service is so important to Scotland that we would bring the Royal Mail service in Scotland back into public ownership under Independence. The importance of this is clearer than ever today and only a Yes vote can now protect this vital public service.”