Private Royal Mail will hurt economy

Opponents to the UK government’s attempts to privatise the Royal Mail have said it could be damaging to local economies.

Angus MP Mike Weir, who is also spokesperson on Postal affairs for the SNP, is one such opponent.

Speaking in a debate held in the House of Commons Mr Weir said Royal Mail, and in particular the universal service, was essential for rural businesses.

He commented: “Last Christmas I visited my local sorting office and was struck by the fact that they were stocked with packages from Amazon and similar on line retailers.

“The process also works both ways, however, small and medium sized businesses in rural areas also use Royal Mail and, in most cases, do not have an alternative. The universal service is absolutely crucial to them and hopes of both creating and sustaining business in rural areas.

“Unfortunately in the run up to privatisation we have already seen substantial increases in the cost of a first class stamp and the removal of price caps on all bar second class letters putting greater burdens on small businesses.

“Things could get much worse. I tackled the regulator as to whether Royal Mail could introduce a pricing structure that charged higher prices in some areas than others, and they confirmed they would not have the power to stop them.

“The regulator has already allowed cherry picking by other operators who are now providing a full end to end service in some areas of London. They will clearly go for easy to manage routes and not hard to deal with rural areas. A sign of the inevitable pressures after privatisation.

“We should stop looking at Royal Mail as a drain on resources, after all in the current year it has made a substantial profit. It is an economic driver in rural areas and should be seen as such and an important part of our national infrastructure.”

Speaking after the debate Mr Weir hit out at the scare stories put out by the NO campaign. He said: “Despite the outrageous claims of Project Fear, the real danger for the mail service is not independence but remaining in the United Kingdom. A privatised mail service would be a disaster for Scotland and we must ensure that we have a publicly owned mail that delivers for all of Scotland.”