By Peter Wozniak
Vince Cable has outlined plans for the privatisation of Royal Mail amid anger from unions.
The business secretary detailed the proposals of the Postal Services Bill in the Commons today, and indicated that 90% of Royal Mail will be opened to private buyers after next year.
The remainder would be offered to staff in what Dr Cable described as the largest example of employee participation envisaged.
"The company now has to go further and faster to innovate, modernise and adapt better to the digital age - that requires substantial investment," he said.
"This investment needs to be delivered by the private sector, particularly in light of the huge public sector deficit.
He claimed the package would "secure the services that consumers and businesses rely on. It will give employees a stable company to work for, shares in the future of the business and the secure pension they deserve.
"It will remove the risk to taxpayers of an expensive bail out."
As for Royal Mail's deficit-laden pension fund, this will be taken on by the government.
Billy Hayes, the head of the CWU postal union reacted angrily to the plans, telling the Daily Politics programme: "Vince Cable, the man who castigated the city and the spivs, is quite happy to see the Royal Mail sold to the highest bidder.
"I don't think that's what the British public wants."
He also called the ten per cent figure for staff ownership "patronising".
However, Dr Cable insisted that the Post Office -which is separately run - will not be privatised but may be put into mutual ownership.
The business secretary added: "It is not for sale and there will be no further programme of closures. We will break the cycle of declining visitor numbers through new ideas and new services to win back customers.
"New ideas like converting the Post Office into a mutual structure in a similar manner to the John Lewis Partnership or the Co-operative Group."