Mandelson urges JLR owners to speed up talks over Government aid offer
Business Secretary Lord Mandelson yesterday urged the parent company of beleaguered car maker Jaguar Land Rover to respond to an offer of Government assistance.
The manufacturer last week announced 300 jobs would be lost at the Halewood plant on Merseyside following the decision to end production of the Jaguar X-Type.
Lord Mandelson urged the firm’s Indian owners, Tata Motors, to “quicken the pace” of negotiations over a package of support for JLR.
In April Tata received agreement for a £340 million loan from the European Investment Bank but is in talks with the Government over the terms for guaranteeing this loan, as well as other financial support for the group.
Speaking to Sky, Lord Mandelson said: “Jaguar Land Rover is a good, first rate company with many strengths and a good future.
“I am waiting for the owners, Tata Motors, to come back and make their response to the offer of financial support the Government has made to them.”
He continued: “Having been told that there was great urgency in responding to the needs of Jaguar Land Rover, we have made our proposals, we have made our offers and now we are waiting for a response.
“If this situation is so urgent, Tata need to quicken the pace of their response.”
On Friday Lord Mandelson said that he could not foresee any circumstances where the Government would allow Jaguar Land Rover to fail.
“Jaguar Land Rover know that, were they to reach the point where they needed Government assistance, they could say so and we will be there,” he said. “That point has not been reached.
“I hope that as many workers at Jaguar and Vauxhall will be in the same jobs in future years as they are now. But, of course, the car industry is going to undergo a lot of change – not just change of owners, but consolidation.
“My job is to do whatever the Government can financially, politically and humanely, to maintain that production and those jobs in those plants across the country.”
Last week the Commons Business and Enterprise Committee said in a report that they were “astounded” that it had taken so long to get finance to JLR.
Concerns were also raised in the House of Commons by Labour MP Richard Burden (Lab, Northfield).
He said: “There needs to be greater dispatch in bringing things to a conclusion, particularly where strategically important companies are involved that are part of the global and regional economies, one example being Jaguar Land Rover in the West Midlands and in the north-west.”
Business Minister Pat McFadden said: “Constructive discussions between the Government and Jaguar Land Rover are continuing. The Government are keen to help, but the terms must be right.”
Black Country MP David Winnick (Lab, Walsall North) also called for action as he questioned ministers. He said: “The West Midlands suffered two major recessions in the 1980s... urgent steps are now necessary to help places such as mine in the West Midlands that rely heavily on the manufacturing industry. We do not want the curse of mass unemployment to come back.”