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Royal Mail warns more competition 'undermines' service

Royal Mail bosses today issued a warning that giving people more choice between delivery services was threatening the future of the universal service, which guarantees that letters can be delivered anywhere in the country for the same price.

Royal Mail bosses have warned against allowing 'cherry picking' between competitors Credit: PA

Chief executive Moya Greene told a committee of MPs that the high cost of the universal service obligation – around £7.2 billion a year – was in part because of the difficulties of delivering to rural and remote parts of the country.

Delivering to high-density areas such as the inner city was much lower cost and helped to subsidise these deliveries – but by allowing these customers to “cherry pick”between Royal Mail and their competitors the system was unsustainable.

Lib Dems debate banning schools' faith selection

Business Secretary Vince Cable and Justice Minister Simon Hughes have urged Liberal Democrat activists to reject a proposal to ban new state schools from selecting children on the basis of their faith.

The measure was put forward by former MP Evan Harris as an amendment to the party's equalities policy paper.

Delegates during day three of the Liberal Democrats annual conference in Glasgow. Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

It also calls for the immediate phasing out of state-funded faith schools over a period of five years and a repeal of the current legal requirement for all state-funded schools to hold acts of collective worship and for non-religious schools to hold acts of worship of a broadly Christian character.

Cable said Harris' proposal risked "really serious harm" and dismissed the idea that not having faith schools encouraged religious tolerance.


Cable to launch plans to give apprentices extra £1 an hour

Vince Cable will set out plans to give apprentices an extra £1 an hour and give up to one million workers new employment rights.

The Business Secretary will ask the Low Pay Commission to bring the £2.73 hourly rate for young people training for work into line with the pay with the £3.79 earned by 16 to 17-year-olds.

Cable to launch plans to give apprentices extra £1 an hour Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

He is also launching a review of employment laws that could see people on "worker" contracts, such as zero hour terms, be given the same rights as most employees. That could mean extending maternity and paternity leave as well as giving workers the right to take employers to an unfair dismissal tribunal. Mr Cable said:

Workers should not be finding out that they are not protected by law once they get to employment tribunal. Businesses should feel more confidence knowing what type of contracts to hire staff on. As the economy recovers, it is right to give a silent minority of workers, who currently have fewer employment rights, the security enjoyed by a majority of employees.

– Vince Cable

'We need to get these driverless cars onto public roads'

Under new measures announced today, fleets of driverless cars are expected to be introduced to the UK roads in "less than six months".

The Government plans to adapt road regulations, which requires changes to the Highway Code, to allow companies to start running trials of cars that do not need a human driver.

ITV News Correspondent Ben Chapman spoke to future transport engineer, Tim Edwards, as he was taken for a drive in one of the new satellite controlled vehicles.

"What we need to do now is get these cars onto public roads so they are immersed in the really complicated day-to-day drive that we'll experience," Mr Edwards said.

Driverless cars will be on UK roads in 'under 6 months'

Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced today that new measures would see "fleets" of driverless cars take to Britain's roads "in less than six months”.

The Business Secretary said driverless cars would be on the roads in Credit: PA

The Government plans to adapt road regulations, which requires changes to the Highway Code, to allow companies to start running trials of cars that do not need a human driver.

Cable said the satellite controlled vehicles are putting the nation "at the forefront of transformational technology" and believes the UK has the "potential to be a world leader in this field".

We will have vehicles which will have automatic parking, we can have automatic breaking which can reduce the risk of tailgating and things of that kind, so these features will gradually be built in.

The key point is that British satellite technology is now pretty advanced, we are now one of the leading countries in the world, and the British car manufacturing industry is very successful.

– Mr Cable

Google shares video of man testing driverless car

The government will announce new measures today which will see driverless cars on the streets of Britain in 2015.

Google has shared a video of the moment Steve Mahan became one of the first users to test the new self-driving car.

The footage follows Steve as he drives around- without touching the steering wheel.

Steve’s outing is more than just a carefully programmed test drive, it’s the realization of a science fiction dream and an opportunity for technology to impact the lives of millions of people.

We hope these experiments unlock new possibilities for our users—even if it's something as simple as picking up tacos

– Google

Google announced the project in 2010 in a bid to make driving "safer, more enjoyable, and more efficient".


Government to announce driverless car trials by 2015

The government will announce new measures today which will see driverless cars on the streets of Britain in 2015.

Business Secretary Vince Cable will later confirm that the first trials of the self-driving vehicles will start in January next year.

This car is controlled from a computer in its boot. Credit: Oxford University

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."

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.

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