Two key UK Government departments blocked car purchases from British manufacturer Rover, reports the UK's 'Times' newspaper (31/7/00).

Both the UK Government`s Social Security and the Inland Revenue departments signed three-year contracts to buy their vehicles from Ford, Peugeot, Fiat, Citroen, Nissan and Vauxhall.

The purchases, which could total 12,000 cars, were in line with EU procurement guidelines and a matter of commercial confidentiality, said the departments. According to the 'Times', both UK MPs and Unions were stunned at the decision and are demanding immediate action.

Criticism has also been levelled at the UK Government for refusing to approve Rover's flagship '75' model as a ministerial car, with its own minister responsible for the automotive industry, Alan Johnson, refused the vehicle.

The ministerial list also excludes the British-made S-type Jaguar.