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Postal Charges

Volume 928: debated on Wednesday 23 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection (1), in view of the fact that on 15th March the Price Commission stated that it had not approved the Post Office application for postal increases, on what authority his Department issued a statement on 14th March that the Commission had agreed upon these increases; and whether he will make a statement;(2) on what date proposals for further price increases in postage rates were officially submitted to the Price Commission; when these were vetted; when the Commission announced its decision; and when, and on what authority, his Department decided that these increases were not out of line with the Price Code.

I regret that I told the House on 14th March that the Price Commission had considered the proposed postal increases and found them in accordance with the Price Code; and that my right hon. Friend did not propose to intervene. As my Department's statement made clear, the Price Commission had not yet considered the Post Office application for tariff increases and the question of intervention does not arise at this stage. I wrote to hon. Members involved in the exchanges to correct the position, and I now take this opportunity of informing hon. Members generally.It is not the practice of the Price Commission to disclose when it receives notifications of intended price increases or to announce its decision on them, since announcements of increases are the responsibility of the enterprise concerned.When the Price Commission has considered the proposals which the Post Office wishes to implement and reports to the responsible Minister my right hon. Friend will have an opportunity to consider the position.