by Stephen Tall on June 19, 2007
A Lib Dem motion underlining the importance of Royal Mail’s Universal Service Obligation was debated at Westminster Hall yesterday amid concerns that, if Royal Mail’s application for zonal charging for bulk mail is approved, bulk mail will be removed from the universal service.
As Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael commented, “What is left will hardly be worth the name. It will hardly be universal and it will barely be a service.”
But what struck me in the debate, as reported on eGov monitor here, was this comment by fellow Scottish Lib Dem, Sir Robert Smith MP:
“the present situation has come about because of the opening up of the letter market, which was the result of European Union regulations and the decision to open up the whole of the European market-albeit not at the pace that it is happening in the UK.”
As a party we have often criticised the Labour Government for its refusal to take a pro-European stance, and too often indulging in ill-informed ‘Brussels bashing’. I find it disappointing to see a Lib Dem MP joining in this ‘pin the blame on European regulations’ meme.
There are faults with the EU, and (for example) Vince Cable has been savage in his attacks on the obscenely protectionist Common Agricultural Policy. But it is also an easy lightning conductor for national governments wishing to distance themselves from decisions they know are right, but which they also know are unpopular. I hope Lib Dems can resist going for the easy hit.