Suppliers to MG Rover were given the chance to question lawyers, insolvency experts and accountants last night as they struggled to come to terms with the impact the company?s collapse would have on their businesses.

Representatives from more than 80 suppliers attended a meeting at Birmingham?s Chamber of Commerce, organised to get expert advice to small and medium-sized businesses as quickly as possible.

Experts said the number of job losses to suppliers was impossible to calculate at this stage. At the top of suppliers? lists of concerns were whether or not they would be able to retrieve components which had not yet been paid for but were already inside the MG Rover?s Longbridge plant.

Some suppliers were also concerned about whether they owned the rights to intellectual property such as components for the Rover 25 and 75 now that plans for the models had been sold to the Chinese.

David Malpass, senior operations manager for Accelerate, which was organised by the Chamber to help Rover?s suppliers after the crisis in 2000, said: ?We need to take action in that area to under-stand the situation further and find out what SAIC own and what they might want to buy in future.

?What we really need to know is if the Government plans to help suppliers in terms of a financial scheme which would allow them to defer payment of PAYE, VAT and National Insurance. We are aware that this is under active consideration and we are pushing for it very hard.

?The mood wasn?t one of anger, it was one of ?we need solutions to the following problems?. People are interested in looking after their own workforce and the future of their businesses. There was a heartfelt plea for help from one supplier who said ?we have done nothing wrong and some of us are world-class businesses who were supplying in good faith to MG Rover.?

He said 75 per cent of those attending the meeting were direct suppliers to MG Rover and all relied on the car makers for at least 15 per cent of their business.

One supplier of Powertrain components, who did not want to be named, said: ?MG Rover was about 12 per cent of our UK output, #5 million a year in turnover. We are owed more than #1 million.

?But people who are owed money by MG Rover won?t get anything from the Government.?

He added: ?Fortunately for us, there won?t be any job losses, but suppliers are having to lay people off. Even if MG Rover is only 10 or 15 per cent of your business, it?s going to have a significant impact.?