Draft Postal Services Act 2000 (Consequential Modifications) Order 2003

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Michael Fabricant: Will the Minister clarify that at present there is no loophole in the law, that it covers mailbags and packets, and that the order only future-proofs the law in case another organisation takes over the provision of mail?

Mr. Timms: Yes, the provisions certainly do not address any loophole, but make consistent throughout legislation references to mailbags, including postal packets in the definition of the 2000 Act.

Section 84 of the 2000 Act refers to theft by Royal Mail employees, and I assure the hon. Gentleman that the Government take a serious view of any such theft, because it is essential to the integrity of the postal system that items of post that are given to the Post

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Office or universal service provider for delivery are securely delivered.

The hon. Gentleman asked finally about savings. The term ''saving'' in the order is not a financial saving, but it does not surprise me that he might have thought otherwise. The title of article 4 is ''Transitional and saving provisions'', and the savings in question are explained in paragraph (3), which refers to

    ''The repeal by this Order of a saving on the previous repeal''.

Saving here means leaving in place—saving—the effect of the previous legislation, in case any change made by the order undermines legislation being applied in a case as we speak. The fact that there is a saving in this order therefore means that any case currently going forward under existing legislation can continue to its conclusion without the change that the order

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introduces thwarting it. Saving is thus rather different from the financial saving that the hon. Gentleman thought it was.

Michael Fabricant: By ''saving'', does the Minister mean ''exception''? If so, why does he not say so?

Mr. Timms: I am not sure that ''exception'' would make the provisions any clearer. I am assured that ''saving'' is the conventional term used for such measures. Like the hon. Gentleman, I was a little confused by it, so I made some inquiries to satisfy myself that it is appropriate and I am reliably assured that it is.

Question put and agreed to.


    That the Committee has considered the draft Postal Services Act 2000 (Consequential Modifications) Order 2003.

        Committee rose at thirteen minutes past Nine o'clock.

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The following Members attended the Committee:
Griffiths, Mr. Win (Chairman)
Atkins, Charlotte
Colman, Mr.
Cotter, Brian
Fabricant, Michael
Field, Mr. Mark

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Francis, Dr.
Iddon, Dr.
Lucas, Ian
MacDougall, Mr.
Stewart, Ian
Timms, Mr.

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