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VW diesel compensation is on track in US but not elsewhere
It has been a year and a half since the diesel emissions scandal at the German carmaker Volkswagen first came to light.
Since then, the company has agreed to pay substantial compensation to people in the US who bought cars equipped with illegal software, capable of disguising their true emissions levels. But Volkswagen has not yet made any payments to buyers in the UK or elsewhere in Europe, even though millions of cars sold in the region were also fitted with similar software. Nor does it have any plans to do so.
Brexit bill: Parliament clears way for talks with EU
Parliament has passed the Brexit bill, paving the way for the government to trigger Article 50 so the UK can leave the European Union. Peers backed down over the issues of EU residency rights and a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal after their objections were overturned by MPs. The bill is expected to receive Royal Assent and become law on Tuesday. This means Theresa May is free to push the button on withdrawal talks – now expected in the last week of March.
Scottish independence: Theresa May ‘should not block referendum’
Theresa May should not try to block First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for a second independence referendum, the Scottish National Party has warned. Deputy leader Angus Robertson said he did not want to “sit in the back of the Tory Brexit bus… and see the prime minister drive us off a Brexit cliff”. Mrs May has so far not said whether she would give permission for a vote. But there has been speculation she will delay Ms Sturgeon’s timetable until after the Brexit process is complete. Ms Sturgeon said on Monday that she wanted a referendum to be held between the autumn of 2018 and the spring of the following year – and has called for Holyrood to be given the power to decide the exact date.
EU workplace headscarf ban is legal, says ECJ
Employers are entitled to ban workers from the “visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign” – including headscarves, Europe’s top court has ruled. But the ban must be based on internal company rules requiring all employees to “dress neutrally”, said the European Court of Justice (ECJ). It cannot be based on the wishes of a customer, it said. It is the court’s first decision on the issue of Islamic headscarves at work.
Intel buys driverless car technology firm Mobileye
US chipmaker Intel is taking a big bet on driverless cars with a $15.3bn (£12.5bn) takeover of specialist Mobileye.
Intel will pay $63.54 a share in cash for the Israeli company, which develops “autonomous driving” systems.
Mobileye and Intel are already working together, along with German carmaker BMW, to put 40 test vehicles on the road in the second half of this year. Intel expects the driverless market to be worth as much as $70bn by 2030.
London private hire drivers ‘don’t need written test’, mayor told
Essay writing should not form part of the licensing requirements for private hire drivers, politicians have said.
In a motion signed earlier, 15 London Assembly members unanimously agreed that passing a written English test was an unnecessary requirement for drivers. Of far greater importance, they said, was the driver’s ability to communicate verbally. They want London Mayor Sadiq Khan to replace the written test with an oral one that costs £25 compared to £180.
Employers hold back on jobs as Brexit uncertainty grows
Employers are planning to hire at a slower pace in the second quarter of this year in a further sign that the UK’s jobs boom may be cooling. Manpower’s quarterly survey of about 2,000 employers found corporate Britain in a slightly less bullish mood in the second quarter compared with the first. There was a particularly sharp slowdown in hiring intentions in London and Scotland, in the agriculture and utilities sectors, and among small businesses with fewer than 10 staff.
Supermarkets cut petrol prices after global oil market weakens
Three supermarkets have said they are cutting fuel prices – following a sharp fall in the global oil price over the last week. Asda said it was dropping the price of fuel by up to 2p per litre capping unleaded at 114.7p and diesel at 116.7p at 301 filling stations. Morrisons – with 333 sites – and Tesco – with 500 petrol stations – said they were also cutting fuel prices by up to 2p per litre. Sainsbury’s did not announce any changes but said its position remained “under review… with a view to remaining competitive”. Rising prices at forecourts have been pushing inflation higher – helping it reach its highest level since June 2014 at the start of this year.
Low interest rates depress productivity, Bank deputies warn
Low interest rates are partly to blame for Britain’s chronic productivity problems, according to two former Bank of England deputy governors. Sir Charlie Bean, now a member of the budget responsibility committee at the Office for Budget Responsibility, yesterday said that low rates appeared to have had a bigger impact on productivity than he originally thought. Last month, Dame Minouche Shafik, who is joining the London School of Economics as director, also said low rates may be depressing productivity. Their comments raise fresh questions about the Bank’s decision to keep rates at a record low, particularly as the chancellor has put productivity at the heart of his efforts to boost growth.
Romans run parks and fill potholes in bust city
Struggling with huge debts and piles of uncollected rubbish, the city of Rome is trying to save money by scrapping park wardens and asking locals to lock the gates behind them at closing time. In the latest sign that the coffers are empty in the Italian capital, the council has advertised for volunteer groups to open 31 parks in the morning, keep an eye out for fly-tippers and hooligans and to close them in the evenings. Nobody will be paid, but the city is offering bus passes to get to the sites and whistles so that volunteers can warn visitors it is time to leave.
Fed-up motorist stuck with driving licence picture of him aged ELEVEN after DVLA bungle
A motorist was left baffled when DVLA workers renewed his driving licence – with a photograph of him when he was 16 years old. Charles Wade-Palmer, 22, from Birmingham, had used the baby-faced photograph of himself when he applied for a provisional licence as a schoolboy aged 16.But after sending off a current photograph for his new licence, he was gutted when it arrived – and the DVLA had chosen to reuse his OLD photo instead of his new one. He is now stuck with his babyface as ID until 2021.