§ 15. Mr. Foulkes
To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the future of the Post Office. 
§ Mr. Foulkes
May I give the Minister some helpful advice? Given that the vast majority of the British public are opposed to privatisation of the very profitable Post Office, and given that they also consider it one of the best public services—way ahead of gas, electricity and water—will the Minister now take action to prevent Tory Members from becoming an endangered species by ruling out the inclusion of Post Office privatisation in the Tory election manifesto?
§ Mr. Page
The hon. Gentleman will have to await our manifesto and the Prime Minister's statement. He will have to control his natural impatience until then, but let me draw to his attention a document that has just emerged from the Communication Workers Union. In the Green Paper, the CWU seeks greater commercial freedom, and expresses a wish to move the Post Office more into the private sector than ever before. Is that the real break between the trade unions and the Labour party?
§ Mr. David Shaw
Does my hon. Friend agree that the issue is not always, "Should we privatise, or should we retain in private ownership?"? The real issue is, "What is the best way in which to ensure that the post is delivered to our constituents on time?" If private ownership would achieve that better, and if as a result of that postmen would receive better salaries—and bonuses at the end of the year—perhaps both postmen and our constituents would prefer a change of ownership.
§ Mr. Page
I fully accept that it is the customer who matters, not the system that is used. In order to help the customer, we have abolished restrictions on capital expenditure in the Post Office. Moreover, a new corporate planning process has been introduced, and we have been able to grant the Post Office significant new end-year flexibility. We have done all that in order to help the Post Office to provide the customer with a better service.
§ Mr. Llwyd
That may be all very well, but does the Minister not agree that we have the best postal service in the world, or at least in the British Isles? Does he not recall the huge public support for the status quo that was evident in the last discussion about privatisation? Does he agree with the sentiment "If it ain't broke, why fix it?"?