British government considers auto bailout

Dec. 22, 2008 at 9:58 AM

LONDON, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- The British government is talking tough, but considering taking action to help out the country's ailing automakers, senior officials say.

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson told automakers during the weekend "the government cannot be a first call for help in these circumstances," The Times of London reported Monday.

"If there is anything that the government can appropriately do for any such company, then it will have to meet -- and pass -- some pretty tough tests," Mandelson said, echoing the U.S. government, which included mandates for U.S. automakers after granting billions of dollars in loans last week.

The Tata Group, which owns Jaguar Land Rover, has told the government it was running out of cash. Vauxhall, owned by General Motors Corp., is negotiating with labor unions for worker concessions, The Times said.

"There's a whole range of things on the table, from changing shift patterns, to pay cuts to getting rid of bonus payments," a Vauxhall spokesman said.

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