Postal Services Bill completes third reading in Lords

25 May 2011

The Postal Services Bill began and completed its third reading – a final chance to amend the Bill – in the House of Lords on Tuesday 24 May. The Bill was passed and has been returned to the Commons for consideration of the amendments made in the Lords

Amendment 3, a ‘tidying up’ amendment moved by Baroness Wilcox, was agreed to without voting. The amendment seeks to ensure that an information-sharing framework would apply to any new pension scheme in the event of a section of the Royal Mail Pension scheme being constituted as a separate scheme.

Two amendments, moved by Lord Young of Norwood Green, sought to focus the attention of the House on specified matters for the last time.

Moving Amendment 1, Lord Young explained that the amendment was ‘intended to concentrate minds and encourage a strategic approach to the future of government services provided through post offices,’ He said it was ‘an important addition to the call for a long-term interbusiness agreement, on which the futures of many of our post offices hang.’ 

Moving Amendment 2, Lord Young explained there was a ‘compelling case to show that in the heyday of privatisation, the 1980s and 1990s, privatised companies were consistently sold at too low a price.’ He said that the amendment sought to provide for the Government, prior to the sale of Royal Mail, to make clear the criteria for and method of their valuation in order to address concern about ‘getting the right valuation of Royal Mail’ and ensure that the taxpayer is ‘not short-changed.’

Speaking against the amendment, Baroness Kramer explained that although she continued to think that the Government did ‘not have a very good track record in valuing companies that they put forward for sale,’ she did not think ‘the Floor of this House would be any more effective in coming to an appropriate valuation either.’

The amendments were withdrawn.

A date has not yet been scheduled for the consideration of the Lords amendments in the House of Commons. Both Houses must agree on the exact wording of the Bill. A Bill may go back and forth between each House, a process known as ‘ping pong’, until agreement is reached. When agreed is reached, the Bill can receive Royal Assent.

Further information

The Postal Services Bill makes provision for the restructuring of Royal Mail, including allowing the sale of shares in Royal Mail and providing for Post Office Ltd to remain in public ownership; the transfer of Royal Mail's pension deficit to Government; changes to the regulatory framework including transferring regulatory responsibility from Postcomm to Ofcom; and a special administration regime to protect the continuation of the universal postal service.

The Bill started in the House of Commons. It completed report stage in the Lords on 17 May.

Third reading in the Chamber is the final chance for the Lords to debate and change the contents of the Bill.

Image: Press Association

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