The Secretary of State responsible for helping people find jobs yesterday said he was confident reforms introduced by the Government would assist redundant MG Rover workers.

Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said former employees had had their pensions safeguarded by legislation implemented by his department days before the Longbridge car manufacturer collapsed.

He also reassured workers attempting to rebuild their lives after being issued with redundancy notices that the Government's ' rapid response' measures - which are put in place when a company goes into administration - would help them find employment.

Mr Johnson was speaking after he visited Birmingham's Brindleyplace to promote a Labour Party campaign aimed at highlighting booming urban centres across the UK.

He said: "We have seen the type of thing that has happened in Longbridge happen elsewhere in the country at Tyneside and Wales.

" The rapid response service has had very impressive results. In some cases 90 per cent of people have been back into work within the first six months of a major employer going out of business.

"We have a very benign labour market at the moment and there are plenty of employers who would be interested in the skilful workforce at Rover." Mr Johnson also said the new Pension Protection Fund would ensure former MG Rover employees received adequate pensions.

"The MG Rover workers will be, tragically, the first customers of the pension fund," he said.