Fleet News

Byers' 'patriotic' call to Whitehall departments

TRADE and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers has ordered a review into whether his and other Government departments should be more patriotic in their car choices.

The news comes in the wake of a 'buy British' call by Labour MP Ian Pearson, who highlighted the poor record of a number of departments, in particular the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions and the Home Office, for choosing UK-manufactured vehicles.

Ironically, Byers revealed that a review of car buying was taking place under questioning in the House of Commons from Tory backbencher John Redwood, who asked how many cars run by the DTI were Rovers.

Byers said: 'I am reviewing this whole area, including the option of giving preference to UK-built cars when this is consistent with securing value for money and meeting our legal obligations. In line with the policy of successive administrations, contracts for ministers' cars are entered into with the Government Car and Dispatch Agency. Twenty-six cars are used by ministers and officials in my department. Two are Rovers, including my own vehicle.'

A DTI spokeswoman said: 'Byers has asked his officials to look into this. The review is at a very early stage and one of the options will be giving UK-manufactured cars preference.'

The review comes as vehicle manufacturers with UK car-making factories are putting the Government under increasing pressure to stem the strength of Sterling and join the euro.

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