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Courier Services: Rural Areas

Volume 737: debated on Thursday 14 September 2023

I appreciate the hon. Member’s interest in ensuring a fair deal for his constituents. The Government’s universal service obligation on Royal Mail guarantees delivery of parcels at uniform rates throughout the UK, without any geographical restrictions. Where other courier businesses decide to serve should be a commercial decision for them.

A constituent who visited my surgery recently complained that one courier service in particular would not deliver to his isolated rural property. The choice of courier is, of course, currently a matter for retailers. Do the Government agree, though, that there is a case for saying that large retailers could offer the consumer the choice of which courier service should be used? That would empower consumers and hopefully improve performance via competition.

The hon. Member raises a very important point. Competition plays a role in this, of course. It is absolutely right that retail business should look at this and try to get the lowest cost for their customers in terms of courier charges. It is, as he acknowledges, a commercial decision for individual retailers, but I absolutely applaud the points he raises. These businesses should be aware of those costs, because they can add significantly to the costs of the products they are selling.