POSTAL SERVICES COMMISSION RESPONSE
Excerpts from a letter to the Clerk of
the Committee from the Chief
Executive of the Postal Services Commission
There were two recommendations which refer specifically
to the Postal Services Commission.
The first reference to Postcomm is in para 22, where it is noted
that we are to "function as the Government's adviser on Counter
services, in effect in an inspectorial role...".
The Committee then goes on to recommend that "the Postal
Services Commission [should] take the necessary steps to ensure
that it is adequately funded and staffed to perform the additional
tasks imposed on it by the Governments acceptance of the recommendation
in the PIU Report".
I am not sure that we see our role as inspectorial. I think
that our role is rather more strategic, and it will be for the
Consumer Council for Postal Services (CCPS) to comment on individual
post office closures. Nevertheless, we will need to be properly
resourced and I am glad to be able to tell you that we do now
have a strong team working in this area. Indeed, one of them has
joined us from the PIU, one from the National Federation of Subpostmasters
and one from a private sector bank. We thus have a good range
of experience which we can bring to bear on the difficult issues
which face us. And we have had no difficulty, so far, in ensuring
that the team, and its research programme, is properly funded.
The second principal reference to Postcomm is in para 32, where
the Committee "welcomes the introduction of objective access
criteria to be used by the Postal Service Commission in considering
which closures to resist ...".
This sentence might, in fact, over-simplify a rather complex subject.
The position as we understand it is that the Government has not
yet specified objective access criteria, and indeed some argue
that tightly defined criteria might do more harm than good. We
will therefore be taking a close look at this issue and hope to
provide helpful advice on access criteria both to the Government
and to the Committee. Also, as noted above, we will not be "resisting"
individual closures. Closure decisions of course are taken by
individual businessmen and women, subject to scrutiny by the CCPS.
Separately, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that
our thinking has developed since Graham Corbett and I met your
Chairman and yourself. In particular, we are now well on with
drafting the licence which will be issued to the Post Office in
March, and we have embarked on our extensive review of the scope
for introducing effective competition into the postal services