The European Commission has insisted it must approve the Government's £6.5 million proposed bail out to keep Rover afloat for another week - before the money can be paid.

"We would expect to be notified about this shortly, and certainly within 24 hours," said spokesman Jonathan Todd.

"We only heard about this proposal on the radio at the weekend and this money must be vetted by the Commission under state-aid rules." The Commission has been in contact with the Government for several weeks, following original plans to provide £100 million to Rover in the event of a rescue deal emerging from talks in China.

But the one-week payment to provide salaries for the workforce, at least, for another seven days came as a surprise to officials in Brussels.

Mr Todd, speaking on behalf of the commissioner in charge of fair competition, Neelie Kroes, said: "All state aids require clearance from the Commission, once they have been vetted to ensure they do not distort fair competition in a particular industrial sector.

"We do not allow operational aid, but the UK Government can issue a rescue-aid package on condition that it last no longer than six months, by which time it must be repaid.

"Alternatively, if the company survives, it can be converted into restructuring aid, which is also acceptable to use.

"Finally, in the event that the company goes into liquidation within six months then of course the issue of competition in the market place no longer arises."

As the proposed payment is only a one-week bail out, the odds are high that it would be nodded through the Commission.

But officials insisted yesterday the plight of Rover did not mean the normal rules could be ignored.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Department of Trade and Industry said: "Of course, we are in contact with the European Commission.

"We don't think the loan will have any adverse effect on competition in the European Union. That is given its relative small scale and the current circumstances of the company."