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Advanced Level Reading: Royal Mail to be privatised

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Good lesson for Advanced level students today. This report is taken from a BBC news story concerning a hot topic in the UK:


A stake A share or interest in a business or situation
Efficiency The quality of working productively with minimum waste or expense
To devastate To destroy or ruin
Update Make more modern
To inject To introduce
Expertise Great skill or knowledge in a particular field
Potentially Having the capacity to do something in the future
Lethal Deadly
To go ahead with something Proceed or be carried out Add either a word or definition in the correct box
Dire Extremely serious or urgent
Legislation Laws collectively
Privatise Transfer (a business, industry, etc.) from public to private ownership
Assets Things a business owns, such as machinery, computers, furniture etc.

Reading: "Royal Mail to be privatised or sold, government says"

The government is to go ahead with the privatisation or sale of Royal Mail.

Business Secretary Vince Cable made the commitment after receiving updated recommendations from the businessman Richard Hooper.

His latest report says the universal postal service can only be maintained by an injection of private sector money and expertise.

The CWU trade union said the plan would devastate the postal service and lead to higher postal charges.

Mr Cable said: "Royal Mail is facing a combination of potentially lethal challenges - falling mail volumes, low investment, not enough efficiency and a dire pension position.
"We will come forward with new legislation in the autumn. It will draw heavily on Hooper's analysis and recommendations and the government's wider objectives, including the need for employees to have a real stake in the future of the business," he added.

Royal Mail welcomed the report.

"Royal Mail needs a way of getting access to capital, a resolution of the legacy pension deficit and a strikingly different regulatory approach which allows us to compete fairly in an increasingly tough and shrinking market," said a spokesman.

But the CWU's general secretary, Billy Hayes, said privatisation would lead to higher prices for customers and job losses for staff.
"It's the failed politics of history which brought disruption to Britain's utilities and railways and astronomical prices for consumers," he said.

"Dangerously in this case, we fear the government may also be plotting to seize the pension assets."

For full article see:

Comprehension questions: Are these statements true or false?

Lesson by Siba, teacher at EC London English school

  • 1. The government doesn’t want to sell Royal Mail.

  • 2. Vince Cable is the UK Foreign Secretary.

  • 3. Richard Hooper advised Cable against the decision to sell.

  • 4. Hooper suggested that the only way for Royal Mail to survive is to have expertise and investment from the private sector.

  • 5. A trade union said that a result of selling Royal Mail would be an increase in prices.