01 January 1998

A REPORT PUBLISHED by the Commons Trade and Industry Committee recommends that the Post Office is converted into a publicly-owned but independent business, able to raise funds in capital markets and pay dividends. The Committee recognised the urgent need to allow the PO greater commercial freedom, given the pace of postal liberalisation within the EC. Noting that the Post Office currently accounts for two thirds of all UK industrial action, brickbats were cast at the poor relations between the PO and its workforce, blame being apportioned equally between management and the Communication Workers Union. The Committee also says a ceiling should be imposed on the Treasury's cut of PO profits, recommending that this is set initially at 40% - currently a swingeing 75% to 90%. The report is timely as the Government is currently reviewing the future of the Post Office. It is vital, says the Committee, that the review 'addresses - and speedily - what can be done immediately to free-up the Post Office'.