MPs approve plans for Royal Mail privatisation

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MPs have approved legislation paving the way for the sell-off of Royal Mail.

The Postal Services Bill, which could see 90% of the firm end up in foreign hands, was approved by the Commons with a government majority of 81.

Ministers say a sell-off is needed to attract new investment, to modernise the business and to protect the existing universal service obligation.

But Labour said ministers had “not made the fundamental case” for privatising such a “vital part of infrastructure”.

Under the proposals, which have yet to be approved by the Lords, employees would be in line get at least 10% of shares in the company.

The business will be split from the Post Office, which will remain in public hands.

During Wednesday’s debate, the coalition saw off an attempt by two backbench MPs to ensure that Royal Mail would have to agree a 10-year deal with the Post Office to guarantee its custom.

The amendment, by Northampton Conservative Brian Binley and Lib Dem Bob Russell, was defeated by 58 votes.

The legislation had been previously amended to ensure the monarch’s head remains on stamps issued by Royal Mail amid fears a private buyer could drop the Queen from its designs.

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