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Jaguar revelations during Commons debate

Jaguar’s chief executive told a Government minister it was more expensive for Ford to close the historic Brown's Lane plant than to keep it open, it emerged this week.

The revelation came during an adjournment debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday evening.

The debate on Jaguar's future was called by Coventry South MP Jim Cunningham, who joined forces with Coventry North West MP Geoffrey Robinson to mount an impassioned plea to save Brown's Lane and its 1,300 jobs.

During the debate Robinson told the Commons Joe Greenwall, Jaguar's chairman and chief executive, had lunch with Bob Ainsworth, Coventry North East MP, on February 3 of this year.

During the lunch, Greenwall revealed Ford's head office in Detroit had agreed Brown's Lane's future was safe. He added Ford had accepted the terms of the agreement signed between Jaguar and unions six years ago to safeguard the plant's future.

Following the lunch, Greenwall had a meeting with Patricia Hewitt MP, the secretary of state for trade and industry.

In the meeting, Greenwall was reported to have told the minister: "We're not doing this because we are sentimentally attached to Brown's Lane. We're not doing this because we care deeply about Coventry, the employees or even the 1998 agreement.

"We're doing this because we showed Ford Motor Company it is more expensive to close Brown's Lane than to keep it going."

Jacqui Smith MP, minister for industry and regions, told the Commons both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor had spoken "forcefully" with Ford's top brass in Detroit about the closure.

A spokesman for Jaguar declined to comment on revelations made during the adjournment debate.

(Source: Coventry Observer)

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