Postal services

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The page will automatically redirect to Postal services Research Briefings produced by the Commons Library, Lords Library and POST

Content published before December 2016

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on postal services. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Commons Briefing Papers

10.03.2016Privatisation of Royal Mail
This note sets out the background and recent events concerning the privatisation of Royal Mail. The privatisation of Royal Mail has taken place in three parts - the majority of the company was disposed of in 2013 and the sales of the remaining parts were in June and October 2015.
09.10.2015Post Office numbers
Over the past 30 years the number of post offices in the UK has almost halved, although numbers have remained stable over the last few years. The Post Office Network stood at 11,634 at the end of March 2015. This note provides a breakdown of the network size over the period as well as a breakdown of post offices by type and by region.
01.09.2014Postal services: Royal Mail plc
This note gives an overview of Royal Mail, covering privatisation, Royal Mail's financial performance, competition in the postal sector, the current regulatory framework and safeguards for postal services and Royal Mail's relationship with Post Office Ltd.
28.07.2014Stamp prices
This note sets out the regulatory framework governing stamp prices used by Royal Mail. It sets out the current position on stamp prices and then includes some comparative and historical information on stamp prices.
15.07.2014TNT Post and Royal Mail: end-to-end competition in postal services
TNT Post are in direct competition with Royal Mail in parts of London, Liverpool and Manchester - they now provide a full 'end-to-end' service in these areas, delivering business post directly to the addresses of customers, and are said to be planning to expand. Royal Mail believe that this competition is a threat to the universal postal service they provide. This note explores the issues, possible responses and the position taken by Ofcom, the regulator, so far.
27.03.2014The Post Office: recent developments
The Note looks at the background to the separation of the Post Office from Royal Mail, the proposed mutualisation of the Post Office, the progress of transformation and modernisation of the Post Office, and the impact on financial performance.
11.09.2013VAT on postal packages
Imports into the EU worth 10 euros or less are VAT-exempt, though Member States may apply a threshold up to 22 euros - worth 18 - and the UK has done this. (Personal gifts are subject to a higher limit set at 45 euros.) The Channel Islands lie outside the EU for VAT purposes. Following concerns that some UK retailers are exploiting low value consignment relief, as it is known, by selling goods over the internet VAT-free from subsidiaries based in Jersey and Guernsey, this relief was withdrawn from imports from the Channel Islands from Apri 2012. This note gives a short introduction to this issue.
06.09.2013The reform of the Postal Services 1997-2011
The note summarises the last Labour Government's policies on postal services before outlining the main provisions in the Postal Services Act 2011 that was bought in by the Coalition Government. Subsequent developments are set out in two further Standard Notes on Privatisation of the Royal Mail (SN/EP/06668) and on the Post Office: recent developments (SN/EP/06718).
18.07.2013Royal Mail Pension Plan
This note looks at the development of the Royal Mail Pension Plan and the Government's decision to take responsibility for its historic deficit.
15.07.2013VAT on postal services
At present public postal services are exempt from VAT, though the European Commission has argued that this hinders competition in postal services across the EU. This note looks at the prospects for reform.

Select Committee Reports

15.03.2011Postal services in Scotland.
Government response. Scottish Affairs Select Committee; Scotland Office report [Commons]
21.12.2010Postal services in Scotland.
Scottish Affairs Select Committee report [Commons]
13.10.2009Post offices: securing their future.
Government response. Department for Business, Innovation and Skills; Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee; Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee report [Commons]
15.07.2009Oversight of the Post Office Network Change Programme.
Public Accounts Committee report [Commons]
23.06.2009Post offices: securing their future.
Business and Enterprise Select Committee report [Commons]

Early Day Motions

That this House welcomes the campaign by Citizens Advice Scotland and Citizens Advice Bureaux across Scotland to tackle unfair delivery practices for consumers in remote and rural areas; ...
That this House notes the importance of the vital community service provided by post offices in Northern Ireland; and further notes that they hold communities together, allowing customers ...
That this House notes with regret the decision by the Department for Work and Pensions not to award the green giro contract to the Post Office; furthernotes that there are communities ...
07.02.2011ROYAL MAIL (No. 2)
That this House recognises that the minimum requirements that make up the current universal postal service obligation on Royal Mail are an essential service for communities throughout ...
That this House calls on the Government to introduce legislation to make it a legal requirement that the profile of the reigning monarch must feature on all UK postage stamps regardless ...


  • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses