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Post Office

Volume 974: debated on Wednesday 21 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry what instructions he has given to the chairman of the Post Office concerning preparation for the separation of the Post Office and the creation of the new telecommunications corporation.

When I announced on 12 September the Government's intention to create a new telecommunications corporation I said that I would ask the Post Office chairman to set preparations in hand; and this I have now done. In the last 10 years the two main businesses of the Post Office have been given an increasing degree of autonomy. Nevertheless, considerable work will still be required in order to ensure that the transition to the new structure will be as smooth as possible. The Carter committee recommended that this work should be set in hand in advance of legislation.I am anxious, in the interest of the businesses, their customers and their employees, that the Post Office should make early and substantial progress towards the new structure. While there can, of course, be no question of going further than existing legislative provisions allow, I believe that it should be possible for the main changes in practical terms to have been substantially achieved by the middle of next year. Final completion of the process of separation and the formal establishment of the new telecommunications authority—which I propose should be called "British Telecommunications"—will then require the passage of legislation and I intend to present the necessary Bill to Parliament as soon as possible.