There was an Opposition Day Debate on the Royal Mail in the House of Commons yesterday. Shadow Business Secretary Ken Clarke moved:
"That this House welcomes the Hooper review of UK postal services; and urges the Government to implement rapidly the review’s proposals for the partial privatisation of Royal Mail."
But despite this support from the Conservatives a Government amendment was drafted, stating that the House:
"“notes the threats to the future of the Royal Mail and welcomes the conclusion of the Hooper Report that, as part of a plan to place the Royal Mail on a sustainable path for the future, the current six days a week universal service obligation (USO) must be protected, that the primary duty of a new regulator should be to maintain the USO, and that the Government should address the growing pensions deficit; notes that modernisation in the Royal Mail is essential and that investment must be found for it; endorses the call for a new relationship between management and postal unions; urges engagement with relevant stakeholders to secure the Government’s commitment to a thriving and prosperous Royal Mail, secure in public ownership, that is able to compete and lead internationally and that preserves the universal postal service; further notes the Conservatives’ failure to invest in Royal Mail when they were in power in contrast with Labour’s support for both Royal Mail and the Post Office; and notes that legislation on these issues will be subject to normal parliamentary procedures.”
Two Conservative MPs – Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury & Atcham) and Edward Timpson (Crewe & Nantwich) – voted against the Conservative motion – and then abstained on the Government amendment.
Last October Mr Timpson slammed the Royal Mail for its proposals to transfer around 460 jobs from Crewe to Warrington. Mr Kawczynski recently gave staff from the Shrewsbury Royal Mail sorting office a tour of the Palace of Westminster before holding a surgery with them.
Update: Mr Kawczynski told ConservativeHome:
"After four years in Parliament and never having voted against my party, I felt I had to in this case. I am in favour of the Post Office remaining in state hands and will not vote for any measure which would wholly or partly privatise it. I have a regular meetings with staff at the huge sorting office in Shrewsbury, which covers Shropshire and a large part of Wales. I have a special strong bond with the workers at the sorting office and I will do everything I can to protect their jobs. I think that privatisation could lead to job losses there, and that’s one of the reasons I voted the way I did."
Further update: Mr Timpson has given ConservativeHome the following statement:
"Crewe sorting office has been earmarked for closure, with little consultation from Royal Mail. This will result in a loss of up to 600 local jobs, with the majority of staff unable to relocate. The impact on both them and their families at a time of recession would be devastating. They do not oppose modernisation of their industry. Like them, I have found Royal Mail managers and the Minister for Postal Affairs to be disinterested and dismissive rather than concerned with the plight of workers at this time of recession. They have used the Hooper Report as an excuse to retrospectively justify their behaviour. I cannot therefore welcome a report that is being used as a stick with which to beat the third largest workforce in my constituency. They deserve better than the atrocious treatment they have received."