Mandelson: Privatise Royal Mail

Business secretary Peter Mandelson wanted Royal Mail to be “progressively privatised”, it has been revealed.

Mr Mandelson is said to have made the statements to colleagues before he was forced to resign in 1998.

The comments indicate he accepted the company would have to stay in government hands for some time but that liberalisation was the appropriate route to take.

He also claimed the reform would already have been carried through if he had stayed in government.

“Frankly, ten years on, I was surprised this was still an unresolved issue,” he is reported to have said.

The issue is expected to be addressed head-on at his appearance before the business committee tomorrow.

“We don’t want post offices to wither on the vine,” said Labour committee member Lindsay Hoyle.

“We want to see them revived with government intervention.”

The suggestion provoked instant protest from the unions.

CWU general secretary Billy Hayes said: “Peter Mandelson has only just come back into government, but he should be aware that there is a clear commitment from the Labour government to keep Royal Mail in the public sector, restated earlier this year at the national policy forum in Warwick.”