14 October 2010

Not thought through

Once upon a time, when the government introduced a bill to parliament, it was fairly clear what the intention of that bill was. Consultations had been held, ground prepared and, while there may have remained details to be sorted out, everyone knew what was planned.

Now take the postal services bill, introduced yesterday by the formerly sainted Vince. He plans to privatise the Royal Mail. But beyond that broad principle, little seems clear. Some 10% of the company will go to the employees, but as for the rest we are in the dark. Will the government retain a proportion of the shares? Will it will be sold to commercial rivals? Will there be a public flotation? Answers came there none.

Similarly with the post offices. All very well to posit a mutualisation, but will the government continue to provide the subsidy to keep it going? Can you have an independent but non-viable mutual organisation? There are suggestions that the government will swing more business towards post offices, but details are extremely scanty.

All very unsatisfactory.

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