Trade Minister Lord Digby Jones yesterday threw his support behind Tata's move to take over Land Rover and Jaguar.

The former director general of the CBI and ex-Birmingham lawyer said the Indian car manufacturer's bid needed to be embraced as an example of the global economy in action.

He maintained the deal between Ford and Tata, which has yet to be sealed, would also be good for British workers and secure jobs.

Tata last week unveiled the world's cheapest car - the Tata's People's Car - at the Delhi Motor Show.

The company has emerged as the front-runner to buy Land Rover and Jaguar from Ford in a £1 billion deal expected to be struck by the end of the first quarter.

Last night Lord Jones said: "At the end of the day if you focus on the brand and add to that the capability of the wealth that is Tata, you will create jobs in Britain and add wealth to the global economy.

"If you do these together you align British manufacturing to the 21st century."

Lord Jones - who was appointed Trade Minister as part of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's pledge to widen the sphere of talent in Government - said his job was to make sure Britain was a focus for investment.

He claimed it was vital to the country's future that people saw beyond national borders when it came to business.

"I am going to India, taking 60 business people who are in value-added engineering with me," he said.

"They are making things in Britain at the top end. We are going to the motor show and saying 'look at what we are doing. Come in part-nership with us and it could be better'."

He claimed Britain was "made for globalisation" because of its historic trade links throughout the world.

But he warned it was increasingly important that people understood that business and industry now operated on a world-wide stage.

"I am a huge fan of globalisation," he said. "But it has come home to roost in a way people have got to understand in the future.

"What we have to do is to get very good in a different way with dealing with these issues. To get that understanding is a huge change to how we used to do it. I think the UK will be OK. We are so diverse. We don't have our eggs in any one sector basket. We engage in so many markets in the world."

He maintained his non-partisan role in politics enabled him to promote "brand Britain" without getting bogged down by the day-today cut and thrust of life in Westminster.

And he paid tribute to Mr Brown, claiming he had been supportive in his new role.

"In all the things I have asked him to help me with he has always kept his word, even when it has been difficult in other areas.

"I take my hat off to him for that . . . it is a long-haul stuff, not short-haul wins."

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