Select Committee on Public Accounts Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 177 - 179)

MONDAY 25 MARCH 2002

MR JOHN ROBERTS CBE, MARISA CASSONI AND MR STUART SWEETMAN

Chairman

  177. Welcome to Committee of Public Accounts of the House of Commons. Today we are considering the Comptroller and Auditor General's Report on Opening the Post, Postcomm and postal services. We have had a hearing on 13th February when we heard from Postcomm. We thought there were a number of questions which we need further elucidation on the practicalities of Postcomm's proposals. We felt it was only fair as Postcomm were making various assertions about the impact of the further competition on Consignia we thought it was only fair we should hear from Consignia. We are very grateful that Mr John Roberts, the Chief Executive of Consignia, has accepted our invitation to come this afternoon. Welcome to you.

  (Mr Roberts) Thank you very much, Chairman.

  178. I well remember working with you in the DTI many years ago. I am pleased to meet you again. Would you please introduce your colleagues?
  (Mr Roberts) Yes. On my right is Marisa Cassoni, the Group Finance Director and on my left is Mr Stuart Sweetman, the Group Managing Director for Strategy and Business Development.

  179. Thank you. First of all, I must put it to you that your critics maintain that you and your Board are so incompetent in running your company that the only way to improve performance is by competition, and the kind the competition we are looking at from Postcomm and very considerable advance in what we know and full competition by 2006. What is your answer to that?
  (Mr Roberts) On the first part there has been a lot assertions made about the competence, efficiency and everything else. If you look at the record of the Board over the last five or six years then it has been going through an enormous amount of change, even more so over the last year or so, and I think a lot of those changes have been managed quite well, some have not. I think that would be the experience of many companies going through the scale of change we are. In terms of competition, I think that competition will have an impact on the business, competition always does. Even before competition was proposed we were putting in some fairly radical changes, some of which have led to some of the industrial relation problems which have been well publicised, and those changes would have come in any way irrespective of competition. There is no doubt that competition will inevitably, for a monopoly industry, an old public sector monopoly industry, have an impact, and probably an impact out of all scale to what is being introduced.


 
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