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Lord Dearing: I feel utterly ashamed not to have proposed the amendments myself. The Minister must accept them!

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: I have a more limited goal in not using the word "unnecessary" in my reply.

I thank the noble Baroness for her interesting historical digression. When I sat on the Post Office committee of review in 1978 I was sent by a friend a list of all the previous Post Office inquiries which even at that stage stretched back over the centuries. I learned then that whenever one talks about the Post Office one is in a long tradition of discussion on these issues. I also learned that the issue of stamps is extremely important to many people in this country.

I fully understand the desire of the noble Baroness to protect the certain words, marks and effigies used by the Post Office, in particular in relation to the Crown. The Government considered, in consultation with the

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Post Office, whether it was necessary to provide specific protection in the Bill and concluded that it was not.

The Government reached this conclusion on the grounds that the Post Office advised that it was content that its name was broadly protected as a trade mark. Similarly, the words "Royal Mail" are a registered trade mark of the Post Office. The Lord Chamberlain's Office advised that the Crown and Royal Cypher are protected under Section 99 of the Trade Marks Act; and the Queen's effigy, as it appears on stamps and, indeed, on coins, is protected by Crown copyright. We do not, therefore, believe that it is necessary to include the offence relating to the use of the words "Post Office" and "Royal Mail" or the Crown, Royal Cypher or the Queen's effigy in the Bill.

With regard to the proposed offence relating to the issuing of adhesive postage stamps, label for payment or prepayment for any postal services, the Government do not believe that these are appropriate. We believe that it is unlikely that other postal operators would wish to issue stamps or other methods of prepayment but if they so wished we would not want to inhibit competition by interfering in their commercial decision to do so. The noble Baroness has spoken constantly throughout these debates about competition and level playing fields. Those principles, with which we agree, should be applied here as well.

If another postal operator were to issue stamps as a method of pre-payment for its own services these would, of course, need to be distinguished from the Post Office's stamps, or those of any other operator. This would clearly be in everyone's interest. It would be at the Queen's discretion as to whether such operators could use her image.

As far as concerns the Universal Postal Union, the stamps of other postal operators would not be recognised for the purposes of the UPU unless and until negotiation had been completed for such recognition. Changes around the world in postal markets will inevitably have repercussions for the UPU versus generally recognised postal services provided by a single postal authority in each country. If the concern of the noble Baroness is about the possible forgery or passing off by one operator of its stamps as that of another, this, of course, would be subject to various criminal offences in the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981. As regards the penalties, these would be level 3 which is, I think, £1,000. I think that, given the range of offences under this particular clause, that is not unreasonable.

I hope that the noble Baroness will be prepared to withdraw her amendment.

5.00 p.m.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, the Minister can be satisfied that I will withdraw my amendment. I suppose that I should be satisfied that he did not use the word "unnecessary", and I thank him very much for that.

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However, I am very disappointed by what he said. I have to say that I was even more disappointed when he said that he had consulted with the Post Office and the Post Office did not see any need for the amendments that I am proposing. I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, with his great experience in the Post Office, for saying that he wished he had proposed those amendments.

I did divide the House earlier on and I lost quite heavily. I shall want to consider these matters and, if necessary, bring them back at Report stage.

I will not waste any more of your Lordships' time. I beg leave to withdraw that amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No.81 not moved.]

Clause 87 agreed to.

Clause 88 agreed to.

Clause 89 [Schemes as to terms and conditions for provision of a universal postal service]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville moved Amendment No. 82:

    Page 52, line 34, at end insert ("(so far as not otherwise agreed)").

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 110, 111, 112, 130A, 131, 134, 135, 137 and 147. These amendments make provision for postal and money orders issued or handled by the Post Office company. They translate into the Bill the provisions that presently apply to the postal and money orders in the Post Office Acts of 1953 and 1969. The Government believe that it is appropriate to include these provisions in the Bill. There have been provisions in law covering these orders for over 100 years.

While the use of these orders has declined in recent years, postal orders in particular remain an important method of payment by post for members of the public who do not have bank accounts. The amendments protect the Post Office company and bankers by limiting liability in certain circumstances. They allow the Post Office company to make schemes in relation to postal and money orders, make provisions for the recoupment of losses and money orders wrongly paid to bankers and set out the treatment of special money orders issued by the Post Office company under an arrangement with a foreign government or postal administration.

A number of minor amendments to the Bill are necessary as a result of the insertion of the postal and money order clauses. These amendments—Nos. 121, 124, 145, 127 and 147— deal with matters such as adding new expressions to the list of expressions in the Bill and adding the new clauses to the provision on the commencement.

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I hope the noble Lords will accept these amendments that the Government believe are important to the continuation of a unique service to those members of society who do not have bank accounts and wish to transmit money through the postal system safely. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Sainsbury of Turville moved Amendment No. 83.

    Page 53, line 17, after ("concerned") insert ("and in England and Wales and Northern Ireland may be so recovered").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 89, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 90 [Exclusion of liability]:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville moved Amendment No. 84:

    Page 53, line 21, after ("lie") insert ("or, in Scotland, be competent").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 90, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 91 to 93, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Sainsbury of Turville moved Amendment No. 85:

    After Clause 93, insert the following new clause—


(".—(1) A universal service provider may, for any purpose in connection with the provision of a universal postal service, require by notice the owner or operator of a relevant ship or aircraft to carry mail-bags in the ship or aircraft.
(2) In subsection (1) "relevant ship or aircraft" means any ship or aircraft which carries on regular communications between two places in the United Kingdom, one of which is not readily accessible by road.
(3) The remuneration for any services provided in pursuance of this section shall be determined—
(a) by agreement between the universal service provider and the owner or operator concerned, or
(b) in the absence of agreement, by the Transport Tribunal or, where both places between which the ship or aircraft carries on regular communications are in Northern Ireland, by the Department for Regional Development in Northern Ireland.").

The noble Lord said: This clause replaces provisions in the Post Office Act 1953 and enables a universal service provider to require the owner or operator of a ship or aircraft to carry mailbags in connection with the provision of the universal service. It also provides for an appeal mechanism where the remuneration for providing such a service cannot be agreed. The clause proposed updates the provisions in the Act of 1953 so that they apply to universal service providers and apply only in those areas where such provision is still thought to be justified, that is, where ships and aircraft are operating to places not readily accessible by road. On some air and sea routes there may be a single provider.

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Unless the prices charged to universal service providers are reasonable, this will put up the cost of delivering postal packets to remote areas and could threaten the maintenance of the universal service at a uniform tariff. If remuneration cannot be agreed, the appeal body is the Transport Tribunal, except in relation to journeys taking place wholly in Northern Ireland where the Transport Tribunal has no jurisdiction, so separate amendments have to be made. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 94 agreed to.

Schedule 5 [Acquisition of land]:

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