8 February 2018

UK Tory Government 'Found Out' on Delivery Charges

Documents have revealed a senior politician was previously warned about the huge costs facing people across Scotland from delivery charges.

It comes after Margot James last month denied in the commons that she had any correspondence on the issue from the Scottish Government prior to a debate put forward by Tory MP Douglas Ross.

In December, a debate was secured in the Commons following a year-long campaign by Moray MSP Richard Lochhead.

During the debate, Douglas Ross asked for confirmation on what contact her department had with the SNP Scottish Government on the issue of delivery charges.

Ms James responded:

“I am not aware of any contact. My office has not had any, but I will find out whether any other offices in my Department have had any contact and write to my hon. Friend with the answer.”

But the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was contacted in December 2016 by the Scottish Government Minister Paul Wheelhouse.

In the letter he said:

“I welcome the engagement of the UK Government on this issue and its recent work on producing a leaflet outlining retailers’ responsibilities.

However, as the regulation for prices of parcels is reserved to Westminster, and many retailers are based outside Scotland, I believe that the UK Government needs to take further measures to improve the situation.”

And in a response in January last year by Ms James, she thanked the Minister for bringing the issue to her “attention”.

She added:

“Regulating prices or intervening in how businesses establish their pricing structures would not be in consumers’ best interests.

“These are commercial interests and should be left to the market. For these reasons, I do not believe more legislation is necessary.

“We will work with the consumer advice agencies on promoting the messages in the leaflet, to make sure retailers are aware of and fulfil their responsibilities.”

The debate at Westminster last month took place after work by Drew Hendry MP and Richard Lochhead MSP to drive the issue forward.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am pleased to see the issue of delivery charges being brought to the attention of Westminster.

“But I am disappointed by the woeful attempt of Mr Ross and his Conservative colleagues to try and bring into dispute the hard work which has been going on for too long by my SNP colleagues both at Holyrood and Westminster.

“It is the UK Government who have the power to make the changes to delivery charges and they must do so now, rather than using the issue as a political football.

“Margot James has been left red-faced by her denial of any communication from the Scottish Government.

“Many people in my constituency of Banffshire and Buchan Coast and all over Scotland, are currently facing extortionate delivery charges based on where they live.

“Consumers are being classed as living in the Highlands and are often forced to pay more than the cost of the item itself simply to have it delivered.

“It must end now.”

Stewart Stevenson
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