For a key sector of the Midland business community a crunch meeting this week could be of equal, if not greater, significance than today’s pre-budget report.

While the Chancellor Alistair Darling, with the Prime Minister looking over his shoulder, unveils his plans, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson will perhaps have half an eye on other pressing business.

The lord is set to meet, in the words of an Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) spokeswoman, ‘‘representatives of the UK automotive and retail motor sector this week to discuss where Government action can help”.

Interesting and good news perhaps for Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) which last night remained tight-lipped about reports circulating widely that it is in secret talks over a Government bail-out bid.

It has been speculated that the luxury car group – owned by Indian conglomerate Tata – has requested an emergency £1 billion loan to help it ride out the downturn in the global car market.

That report came over the weekend as JLR chief executive David Smith warned that large scale redundancies were a “probability” within the car industry and that they could be so severe that the UK economy could be permanently damaged.

Over the past month JLR has seen more than 600 of the firm’s 16,000 employees take voluntary redundancy with another 300 from Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich and Land Rover’s Solihull plants taking three months off for a 20 per cent cut in their salary.

Figures out last month saw new car sales fall in UK to their lowest levels for more than 40 years with other developed countries experiencing a similar decline in sales

The (BERR) spokeswoman declined to comment on specific cases when asked by The Birmingham Post about the JLR bail-out speculation.

Today, the entire automotive sector -– not least executives at executives at JLR – will be honing its argument to win Government help of substance from this week’s meeting.