The Government was today accused of putting hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk by failing to give the automotive industry the support it needs to survive the recession.
A scathing report by a Commons inquiry attacked Ministers for dithering while countries such as France and Germany acted to help their motor industry.
And MPs said they were “astounded” that it had taken so long to get finance to West Midlands-based carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), which has axed 2,200 jobs over the past year.
The findings were published by the Business and Enterprise Select Committee, which quizzed a range of leading industry figures as part of an inquiry into the future of the automotive sector.
They included David Smith, Chief Executive of Jaguar Land Rover, as well as managers at Toyota and Leyland Trucks. The inquiry also heard evidence from ministers, civil servants and union leaders.
Earlier this week, Jaguar announced it was to axe production of its XType saloon at its Halewood factory in Merseyside, with the loss of 300 jobs.
And Mr Smith warned of more job cuts to come, saying “further action” would be determined by the state of the market and how quickly a promised Government-backed loan of £292 million was forthcoming.
The automotive industry supports an estimated 384,000 jobs across the country, and six per cent of all research and development undertaken in the UK.
MPs warned that vehicle manufacturing could “flourish” in the UK, “but its long-term future depends on government taking the right actions now to ensure that the industry is sustained through this period of crisis.”
They added: “The Government must not only support individual companies, but be seen to support the industry as a whole, and act with more urgency and consistency than it has done so far.”
Business Secretary Lord Mandelson announced an ambitious scheme to provide £2.3 billion in loan guarantees or loans to the automotive sector in January – but no money has been paid out so far.
Ministers also announced a scheme offering loans to smaller companies, with a turnover of up to £25 million.
But industry leaders told the inquiry this was not enough, and the MPs warned: “We share the concerns that the Government has not acted as quickly or decisively as other EU governments.”
France had made more than £7.5 billion available, while Germany had offered loans or guarantees of up to £77 billion, they pointed out.
The MPs said: “Worse still, there are perceptions that the Government does not have a coherent and supportive policy for the industry.”
The Government had still not provided guarantees needed for JLR to receive a much-needed loan of £340 million from the European Investment Bank.
The report praised the Government for introducing a £300 million for the Scrappage Scheme.