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'Taxpayer disgracefully short-changed' by Royal Mail sale

Labour has hit out at the sale of Royal Mail, accusing the Government of leaving the taxpayer "disgracefully shortchanged".

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said:

This report delivers a damning verdict on the Tory-led Government's botched Royal Mail fire sale, leaving the taxpayer disgracefully short changed by hundreds of millions.

At the same time, stamp prices have shot up by 30% and vital services have been put at risk at a time when families are already hit by a cost-of-living crisis.

We now know...far better value for taxpayers could have been possible had ministers adopted a different timetable for the sale.

The NAO could not be clearer: the inflexible timetable set by ministers for Royal Mail's privatisation resulted in the public losing out.

– Chuka Umunna

Govt: Royal Mail sale 'raised almost £2bn'

The Government has defended the sell-off of the Royal Mail in the face of a damning report into its privatisation, saying the flotation rose £2bn for the taxpayer.

BiS permanent secretary and accounting officer Martin Donnelly explained:

Our course of action was appropriate given the significant risks at the time and the fact that the alternative of a failed sale would have been the worst outcome for the taxpayer.

The sale price secured by the Government was based on a comprehensive process of preparation, in which we took extensive professional advice and consulted with more than 500 investors. We have raised almost £2bn for the taxpayers in the process.

By retaining a 30% stake in the business we have made sure taxpayers have benefited from dividend payments and will continue to benefit from share price rises after the sale.

– Martin Donnelly

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Caution over Royal Mail sale 'cost taxpayer'

General view of a red Royal Mail Post Box. Credit: Edward Smith/EMPICS Entertainment

The Government could have achieved better value for the taxpayer through its controversial privatisation of Royal Mail, according to a new report which reveals most investors given priority to buy shares sold them shortly after making a profit.

The National Audit Office (NAO) disclosed that 12 priority investors sold all or some of their holdings within the first few weeks of trading.

Critics of the privatisation said the spending watchdog had offered "startling proof" that the Government sold off the country's family silver "on the cheap".

But Business Secretary Vince Cable said the report showed that the Government achieved what it set out to do - securing the future of the universal delivery service through a successful sale.

The NAO said Dr Cable's department took a "cautious" approach to a number of issues which led to shares being priced at a level "substantially below" the initial trading price.

On the first day of trading last year, Royal Mail's shares closed at 455p, 38% higher than their price sale, representing a first day increase in value of #750 million for the new shareholders.

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Cable: Hitachi move 'huge vote of confidence in Britain'

The Business Secretary has welcomed a move that will see Hitachi transfer its global rail headquarters from Tokyo to London.

This move demonstrates a huge vote of confidence in Britain, its workers and its rail industry from one of Japan's biggest businesses. It follows the company's announcement last year of 750 new jobs at their factory in Newton Aycliffe, which I was delighted to launch with (Transport Secretary) Patrick McLoughlin.

It's further testament to the Government's industrial strategy which is giving companies of Hitachi's stature the confidence to invest in the UK in an expanding rail sector, creating new jobs and increasing exports that will help sustain long-term economic growth.

– Vince Cable. Business Secretary

Cable: EU referendum 'damaging UK investment'

David Cameron's commitment to an in/out referendum on Europe is causing uncertainty and damaging investment in the UK, Business Secretary Vince Cable will warn today.

He will say that firms will "look elsewhere" to invest if access to the lucrative European market is jeopardised.

File photo of Business Secretary Vince Cable.
Business Secretary Vince Cable will make a speech later today. Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

As Liberal Democrats gather for their spring conference in York, Mr Cable will also warn that Eurosceptics are putting the union with Scotland at risk by indulging in nationalist rhetoric.

He is expected to say, "How on Earth do you expect to persuade the Scots to ignore the siren voices of nationalism and separatism when you indulge in British nationalism and Euro-separatism?"

Vince Cable won't get into a 'barney' over immigration

The Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable has told ITV News that the issues over immigration are of "genuine concern to lots of people" and that he won't get into a "party political barney" with opponents or Coalition partners.

The Conservatives' new immigration minister James Brokenshire had earlier said that Mr Cable was "incorrect" over the seriousness of the figures and also stated that wealthy Britons are "benefiting from immigration".

Cable 'intensely relaxed' on migrants 'if pay their way'

Business Secretary Vince Cable is expected to say he is "intensely relaxed" about people coming to study and work in the UK "provided that they pay their taxes and pay their way".

Former Labour minister Lord Mandelson once famously said he was "intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich as long as they paid their taxes".

Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable will make an immigration speech tonight.
Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable will make an immigration speech tonight. Credit: PA Wire

During a speech at Mansion House tonight, Mr Cable will say, "I start from a fairly simple, basic economic proposition embedded in the EU Single Market: free trade - that is, the free movement of goods, services and labour - is good.

"This is particularly true about the free movement of people bringing skills in demand."

Read: Cable set to anger Tories with EU free movement speech

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