To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, following the changes envisaged in the Postal Services Bill and the change of regulatory framework for postal services, the commitment to a continued Universal Services Obligation for postal services means that the obligation will continue to apply to citizens, businesses and consumers in Northern Ireland on the same terms as those in the rest of the United Kingdom; and whether any subsequent changes in the obligation will be agreed in consultation with Consumer Focus and specifically with the Consumer Focus post covering Northern Ireland. [HL2980]
The Government's first priority is to secure the provision of a strong universal postal service. We want to protect customers by securing the universal postal service, at the current standards we enjoy in the UK, and this will, of course, include customers in Northern Ireland.
The new Postal Services Bill enshrines in legislation the minimum requirements of a universal postal service. The result is that the minimum requirements of the universal postal service are protected—there will always be at least one collection and at least one delivery of letters every working day, and there will always be a one price goes anywhere service.
Once the Bill becomes an Act, and Ofcom takes responsibility for regulation of the postal services market, it will conduct a market assessment which will help decide which products should be provided as a universal service. Ofcom will consult fully, including with Consumer Focus, before it reaches decisions on this very important area.