Midlands industry is resigned to another interest rate standstill when the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee makes its latest monthly announcement tomorrow.

Some business leaders admitted it was difficult to argue that rates should be cut when the economy was growing steadily.

But others insisted the region badly needed a reduction.

James Cooper, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry policy adviser, said: "We don't expect a cut. But obviously we'd like one.

"As long as the inflation targets are being met and the economy continues to grow at a steady rate, then the MPC will keep things as they are. Many economists believe we won't see any change in interest rates during this entire calendar year.

"The Government is wary of an increase in energy prices, which may lead to inflationary pressures, and even though the manufacturing sector is still struggling, the economy as a whole is stable.

"Until that changes it looks as if the Bank will be unwilling to rock the boat, even though that decision could harm the prospects of hundreds of small firms."

David Stevens, president of Solihull Chamber, said: "The more that business pleads for cuts in interest rates, the more likely it will be seen as whinging.

"Although both service and manufacturing sectors do not see a time in the short-term when they will be recruiting, they do see higher turnover and profitability. That means businesses are becoming leaner and more efficient and that rates are not necessarily a major concern at this time, unless, of course, they go up."

But Black Country industrialist Peter Mathews, president of the Midlands World Trade Forum, cautioned: "Small firms, especially in the manufacturing sector, will not be happy if rates remain as they are.

"The only way to improve the position so that manufacturers can compete with Europe and the Middle and Far East, is to cut rates to the bone."

The shadow MPC previously voted for rates to be reduced from their current level of 4.5 per cent, but has this month opted to hold.

Louise Bennett, chief executive of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, believes that decision gives a clear indication of what will happen when the real committee concludes its twoday discussions which begin this morning.

She said: "Rising gas prices have been pushing inflation up and US rates are higher than here, both factors which may see the MPC go for a hold. Statistics are always open to interpretation and a great deal of recent data has been conflicting, but I would certainly be surprised if rates moved.

"But that is certainly what we would like to see happen. Our members are trading in very competitive conditions. A reduced rate would certainly give them a boost."

Business lobby group Birmingham Forward is also calling for a cut sooner rather than later.

Simon Murphy, chief executive, said: "We are long over-due for a cut that will kick start the economy and need the MPC to take a fresh look at the situation.

"A small cut may save businesses from going into recession and, if managed properly, should ease negative pressures in the coming months."

Ronnie Bowker, senior partner at accountants Ernst & Young in Birmingham, urged fundemental change.

He added: "For the long term prosperity of the region, the economy needs to rebalance. Sustainable economic growth can only be achieved if manufacturers and service industries are winning at home and abroad."