Right of Reply: Derek Hodgson

The head of the Communication Workers Union on the future of the Post Office
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The Independent Culture
IN YOUR lead editorial on the future of the Post Office, you first advocate privatisation and then suggest "that the word `privatisation' should not be used". To equate commercial freedom with privatisation shows complete ignorance of a debate that started in 1992. The Communication Workers' Union, the Labour Party, the Trade and Industry Select Committee and the independent consultancy, London Economics, have all argued for commercial freedom in the public sector.

You recognise that "letter post is a natural monopoly and, to some extent, a public service". You acknowledge that the Post Office has "become a much more efficient organisation recently" and that "almost all the Conservative privatisations were flawed". Public ownership of the Post Office has been a success.

The Communication Workers Union has played a full part in the Government's Review of the Post Office. The Labour Party was elected on a pledge not to privatise the Post Office. The review has, in the Union's view, confirmed the wisdom of that pledge. There is no case for privatisation in any form.

Years of speculation on the future of the Post Office have diverted management and the union from our main task of working together to create a more efficient Post Office in an increasingly competitive environment. Privatisation would require contentious legislation and cause damaging delay to commercial freedom.

The Government should end uncertainty by making the Post Office an Independent Publicly Owned Corporation. This would include regulation and other disciplines to ensure the Post Office's continued success. The Government, as the owner of the Post Office, would enjoy a fair return to help finance current and future public spending.