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Cable: Royal Mail sale critics have benefit of hindsight

Vince Cable said MPs criticising the Government over the privatisation of Royal Mail have "the benefit of hindsight".

The Business Secretary said: "We sold at a price that was regarded as the best that could be achieved in the context in which we sold it."

"The point we have stressed ... is the price of shares is very, very volatile. These things go up and down."

"I think the wisdom of hindsight about price doesn't really help us very much."

Read: MPs claim Royal Mail sell-off cost taxpayers £1 billion

Vince Cable: Exclusivity clauses for workers 'offensive'

Vince Cable has said clauses in zero-hour contracts that ban workers from jobs with other employers are "offensive".

Dr Cable told Radio 4's Today programme: "What happens is that people turn up for work under a zero-hours contracts, they’re not guaranteed any work, but they’re banned from working for other people...I think it’s that aspect of it that was offensive and constituted an abuse that we want to stop."

Vince Cable called exclusivity clauses 'offensive'.

The Business Secretary is bringing forward plans to outlaw these 'exclusivity clauses', although he has said that the broader idea of zero-hours contracts can be "perfectly sensible" for some workers.

Read: Banning exclusivity clauses 'misses bigger picture'

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Cable: Don't 'lecture' China on human rights

Vince Cable speaks to bankers and City bosses in the City of London Credit: Laura Dale/PA Wire

Vince Cable has said that Britain must recognise China's economic achievements instead of focusing on "lecturing" the country on its human rights record.

"As far as human rights is concerned I don't think we should be lecturing the Chinese, but it is right we have a proper dialogue with them about it," he told the CNN's The Business View.

"When I was in China I raised with senior party officials issues around trade union rights and strikes.

"But I think it's got to be done in a certain tone and I think must be accompanied by respect for what the Chinese have accomplished," he said.

More: Osborne hails 'momentous progress' in UK-China links

Clegg & Cable share a pint a week after Oakeshott poll

Nick Clegg shared a drink today with Business secretary Vince Cable, a week after an internal party poll was leaked to the Guardian, suggesting the Liberal Democrat leader would lose his seat in 2015.

Lord Oakeshott, who has now resigned from the Liberal Democrats, privately commissioned surveys in several constituencies that showed a collapse in support for the party since 2010.

Both visited a local pub today, to highlight new government legislation to help pub landlords tackle unfair treatment from pub companies.

Nick Clegg and Vince Cable enjoy a pint together to promote new legislation for publicans. Credit: ITV News

Asked if the pub meeting was a show of Liberal Democrat unity within the party, Clegg said:

"No, Vince and I have worked together for years as party colleagues, as old friends and will continue to do so.

"We have had a really difficult time of it but we are determined to work together to learn any lessons. I think the team is very united."

More: Clegg insists Cable 'was not aware' of Oakeshott poll

Landlords to get 'accurate assessments' on earnings

Business Secretary Vince Cable has said that the new statutory code between pubs and their owners will make sure that "tied tenants get an accurate assessment of how better off they could be."

The long-awaited plans will tackle complaints by landlords "tied" to large pub companies, with Cable saying they will now be protected from "unfair treatment".

Vince Cable said that pubs and owners play a vital part in local communities. Credit: Clara Molden/PA

Mr Cable said: "Local pubs and their owners play a vital part in vibrant local communities right across the country, as well as making an important contribution to the economy".

He said the independent adjudicator will now make sure pub companies are "forced to act to redress the situation if they aren't behaving responsibly."

More: Government announces 'fairer deal' for pub landlords

Nick Clegg: Cable knew nothing about Oakeshott poll

Nick Clegg has played down suggestions that Vince Cable knew about a controversial poll commissioned by Lord Oakeshott in the Deputy Prime Minister's constituency.

The peer, who has now resigned from the Liberal Democrats, privately commissioned surveys in several constituencies that showed a collapse in support for the party since 2010.

But Mr Clegg insisted the Business Secretary, once seen as an ally of Lord Oakeshott, was unaware of a survey in the Lib Dem leader's Sheffield Hallam seat.

"Vince Cable clearly didn't know a thing about a poll being conducted in Sheffield," the Deputy Prime Minister told BBC Radio Sheffield.

Read: Nick Clegg to face further questions on Lib Dem leadership

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Vince Cable: 'Tricky' to block Pfizer bid for AstraZeneca

Business Secretary Vince Cable has admitted European law means it would be "quite tricky" for the Government to block Pfizer's bid for AstraZeneca.

There have been suggestions ministers could scupper the takeover on the grounds that it is not in the UK's public interest to allow Pfizer to take control of the British-Swedish firm.

Vince Cable answering questions from MPs about the Pfizer bid for AstraZeneca. Credit: PA Wire

He told MPs on the Business Select Committee: "The framework which we have under the act, as you know, confines the public interest test quite narrowly and, of course, all of that takes place within the framework of European merger law."

Read: Pfizer boss admits merger would mean some job cuts

Government 'not ruling out intervention' in Pfizer bid

Business Secretary Vince Cable has opened the door to a possible Government intervention if US firm Pfizer bids to take over British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

Although Chancellor George Osborne said he would back "any arrangement" that secured British jobs, his Liberal Democrat colleague said he was "not ruling out intervention".

The Government has the option of putting the bid to a public interest test if it considers that the takeover may harm the British economy.

"One of our options as the Government would be to consider using our public interest test powers," Dr Cable said.

"This would be a serious step and not one that should be taken lightly and I'm open-minded about it while stressing that we are operating in serious European legal constraints."

Read: AstraZeneca braced for potential hostile takeover bid

Vince Cable: Government 'neutral' on Pfizer deal

Business Secretary Vince Cable has said the Government will show "even-handed neutrality" over Pfizer's bid for British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca.

Answering questions in the House of Commons, Dr Cable said: "The Government must and will approach it from the position of even-handed neutrality and recognise that this is ultimately a matter for the shareholders of both companies."

Business Secretary Vince Cable addresses MPs in the House of Commons.
Business Secretary Vince Cable addresses MPs in the House of Commons. Credit: Pool

He also sought to reassure MPs about the impact of any possible takeover on jobs, saying: "I and my colleagues across Government engaged early with both companies to make sure the outcome is positive for the UK."

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