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Mandy preps list of UK businesses to save

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Lord Mandelson of Foy is preparing criteria to decide which British businesses the government should save if they go bankrupt.

Factors such as the number of employees and the amount of R&D a company carries out would help firms get on Mandelson's list.

The minister for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform showed his plans to the national economic council last week.

Talking to the Guardian Mandy admitted he was surprised to be asked back into the Cabinet and was nervous about people's likely reaction.

He said he doubted that the impact of the economic crisis on the real economy had been fully understood.

Mandelson said: "No one can foretell how short or long - how painful or painless - the recession is going to be. The recession will determine our borrowing our taxing and spending. All I know is that the deeper we get into the recession, the higher the costs of climbing out will be."

He said he believed British industry wanted a more active role for his department: "They don't want us to pick winners, but they do want a route map."

The minister is also believed to be opposing Department of Health plans to ban the display of tobacco and cigarettes by shopkeepers because many small retailers are already struggling to survive. ®

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