Waldegrave warns against 'reforming zeal'

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WILLIAM WALDEGRAVE, the public services minister, fired a shot across the bows of his party's right wing yesterday with a warning against excessive privatisation zeal, writes Patricia Wynn Davies.

He told a Conservative meeting in Bridgwater, Somerset, that 'in our reforming zeal we should not forget that old institutions often embody wisdom which is temporarily out of fashion. There is something to be said for a Post Office which unites the kingdom by carrying mail at the same cost everywhere, for example.'

Although privatisation of the Post Office has been put on the back burner following criticisms that rural offices would be at risk, the remarks will further lower the standing of Mr Waldegrave in the eyes of the party's right.

But there was a further sign yesterday of ministerial preparedness to take account of public opinion. Steven Norris, the junior transport minister, signalled that the Government would plough on with deregulation of London buses. But Mr Norris emphasised that deregulation had to go hand in hand with the survival of the London Travelcard. He told BBC radio that anyone one who knew anything about public transport in the capital knew the card 'had to survive'.