Post Office to lose monopoly above 50p

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THE GOVERNMENT yesterday signalled its determination to press ahead with a halving of the Royal Mail's letter monopoly to 50p despite objections from a cross-party committee of MPs.

Alan Johnson, the former postman who is now industry minister with responsibility for the Post Office, said the reduction in the monopoly next April from its present level of pounds 1 was part of a balanced package of reforms.

Mr Johnson said 50p was not "an arbitrary figure plucked out of the air" but had been decided on after full consultation with the Post Office. It would affect only 6 per cent of the Royal Mail's business and benefit consumers by increasing competition.

The minister's remarks at the Institute of Public Policy Research follow a report from the Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee urging the Government to allow the new postal regulator to decide how far the monopoly should be reduced.