Birmingham Chamber of Commerce & Industry yesterday urged the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee not to lose the plot over interest rates.

It believes a further rise on top of the quarter per cent in August could harm the manufacturing industry recovery.

The MPC announces its latest decision tomorrow.

Pundits expect rates to go up to five per cent from the current 4.75 per cent, possibly this month but more likely in November.

The shadow MPC, which meets at the Institute of Economic Affairs, voted 6-3 for an immediate rise.

It also voted for a jump in August when most analysts expected MPC members to deliver a no-change decision.

John Lamb, BCC spokesman, said: "We hope the MPC is not going to panic."

While acknowledging that inflation was a concern, he urged the committee not to lose sight of issues such as the state of manufacturing and the strength of the pound.

"We do not believe the time is right for an interest rate rise," said Mr Lamb. "I urge them to give manufacturing and exporters a fighting chance to compete in what are very difficult trading conditions at the moment."

Louise Bennett, chief executive of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said another rates increase would "put a further squeeze on business".

Ms Bennett said: "Many e xperts are pointing to November as the time for the next rise but, following the news that the shadow MPC voted for an increase, I would not bet against it happening this month.

"The shadow committee has been in tune with the MPC over the past couple of years and, therefore, it would come as no surprise if it followed suit again.

"From a business point of view, I would like to see the last rise given time to take effect before another hike so soon after."

No change this month was the prediction from John Kelly, senior partner of accountants Begbies Traynor and president of the Institute of Accountants in the West Midlands.

He acknowledged a rise in November was probably the right move but he issued a word of caution on behalf of the numerous management buyouts and buyins that have taken place in the last year.

"Increased activity in the Midlands corporate finance market means that a number of businesses are relatively highly geared and are thus more exposed than most to interest rate rises.

"Those that are struggling to achieve their projected business plan will find an interest rate rise doesn't help them at all.

"Generally, in common with the consumer sector, corporate Britain is also more heavily borrowed than it has been for some time, and with margins tight, this impacts directly on the bottom line."

John James, chairman of the Institute of Directors in the West Midlands, called for a rate rise sooner rather than later.

"If interest rates don't go up this month, I think we will see them rise in November, but I feel we should take our medicine sooner rather than later," he said.

Birmingham Forward spokesman Gary Cowdrill, of the West Bromwich Building Society, said: "We do not see a need for a change in the interest rate this time.

"We acknowledge there are some inflationary pressures and there are definitely some mixed economic signals.

However, we believe a rise in the interest rate would be premature - it is too early to see the impact of the August rise.

"An increase this time would be a blow for business and housebuyers."

Philip Shaw, Investec chief economist, said the fall in petrol prices over recent days had actually reduced inflationary concerns.

He said: "Evidence is creeping through hinting that the economy has not been quite as strong as we thought before, and that there are more question marks over the pace of activity looking forwards."