HomeBussinessRoyal Mail’s six-day delivery service must continue, says business minister

Royal Mail’s six-day delivery service must continue, says business minister


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Royal Mail’s six-day delivery service must continue, a business minister has said, as the group proposes cuts.

The postal service put forward proposals in April that would see a dramatic reduction in second-class letter deliveries.

Regulator Ofcom is currently consulting on the group’s reforms which are not expected to impact first-class mail.

In the Commons on Thursday, Kevin Hollinrake urged Royal Mail to abandon its plans to reduce the service.

Business minister Kevin Hollinrake urged Royal Mail to abandon plans to reduce the six-day postal delivery service (James Manning/PA)

Conservative former minister David Mundell argued that a reduction in services would negatively affect elderly residents in rural areas.

The Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP said: “Are ministers as concerned as I am about continued reports that Royal Mail are determined to move away from a six-day service?

“In a large rural constituency like mine, with an older population, people continue to rely on the Royal Mail for important communications.

“So can the minister make clear that this is not the direction of travel that the Government wants to see Royal Mail going?”

During business and trade questions, Mr Hollinrake replied: “We absolutely agree with his point. We have been very clear with Royal Mail, and indeed with Ofcom, the regulator, that we want to see a continued six-day service.

“And the Royal Mail, and hopefully Ofcom, will have heard what he’s said today and what we have said today – the six-day service must continue.”

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “Our proposal for the future Universal Service retains a six-day service for First Class letters. Furthermore, parcels would continue to be delivered up to seven-days-a-week.

“The proposal is based on listening to thousands of people across the country to ensure it meets their needs. It is good for our customers, good for our people and would allow Royal Mail to invest in products and services that the UK wants.”

Elsewhere in the session, Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant claimed there was a “great deal of murkiness about the trade envoys”.

Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant asked about trade envoys and their costs (Yui Mok/PA)

Business and trade minister Greg Hands told MPs that costs for UK trade envoys in 2023/24 were £232,325, stating: “These costs are for flights and accommodation when the official British residence was unavailable, and other sundry expenses.”

Sir Chris (Rhondda) said: “The minister has point-blank refused to publish the breakdown of all the trade envoys and their costs on absolutely spurious reasons.

“If you go on a select committee visit to South Korea, for instance, all the details of that cost are published, but not if a trade envoy goes, so how can we possibly judge whether the £750,000 that have been spent so far in the last three years have been well spent?

“Is there any accountability whatsoever? Or isn’t this really just a means of providing sinecures for people that they like in the Government?”

Mr Hands replied: “I think there’s a lot of bluster there, and not a few accusations that I think he may wish to … or try and stack these things up a little bit.

Greg Hands
Business and trade minister Greg Hands said gifts and hospitality were already published in departmental registers (James Manning/PA)

“But it is a cross-party programme, it is not a Government-only programme. Many Labour MPs, Labour peers and others are members of the programme.

“Gifts and hospitality are already published in departmental registers. And, if I might… two qualifications for the cross-party role are diplomacy and discretion, which might explain why not everybody has been asked to do the role.”

Later in the session, Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse was accused of bringing “constant doom and gloom” to the Commons by Mr Hands.

Ms Hobhouse, MP for Bath, said a “lack of coherent agri-trade policy together with a complex set of import and export certification rules” is preventing rural food producers from trading outside the UK.

She added: “How is the department going to support UK food producers to deal with complex trade red tape?”

Mr Hands said that contrary to Ms Hobhouse’s comments, the Government is putting a “huge amount of resources” into promoting agricultural food exports.

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