Future outside investment in the Royal Mail will be vital to protecting the universal service in Shetland, isles MP Alistair Carmichael said today.
Mr Carmichael gave his full backing to coalition government’s controversial plans for the reform of the company. Business secretary Vince Cable outlined new protections which it is claimed will make it more difficult for governments to downgrade postal services in future, and announced that the Post Office network would receive an additional £1.34 billion in state funding over the next five years.
Earlier this week Mr Carmichael met the new chief executive of Royal Mail, Moya Greene, and invited her to visit postal workers in the Northern Isles.
Mr Carmichael said: “There is no getting away from the parlous state of the Royal Mail. The seeds of the present conditions were sown in the early years of this decade when the letter post market was opened up to full competition in a way that left Royal Mail at a huge commercial disadvantage. As a result they lost business from banks, credit card companies and other large scale mail users.
“Some of the proposals included in the Postal Services Bill are not things that I would have been quick to support in the past. However, the situation facing the Royal Mail is now so severe that allowing new investment is the only way to secure the future of the universal service.”
Mr Carmichael said protecting the universal service had always been at the heart of the government’s plans for the reform of Royal Mail and he was pleased that Mr Cable stressed that point during his statement in the House of Commons. In particular having the power to make all operators in the market pay for the universal service and not just leaving it to Royal Mail was crucial.
Mr Carmichael said: “As Vince told Tavish Scott earlier this year, there is no question of any downgrading of postal deliveries to or from the Northern Isles. In future, as now, someone posting a parcel in Kirkwall or Lerwick will pay the same price and receive the same service as is available to people in other areas of the country.
“The two Hooper reports on the future of postal services in the UK outlined the dangers of failing to act – something that was reiterated by the new chief executive of Royal Mail during our meeting earlier this week. The government is committed to taking the urgent steps required to protect postal workers and consumers alike.”