Steel Industry

Business and Trade – in the House of Commons at on 30 November 2023.

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Photo of Tonia Antoniazzi Tonia Antoniazzi Opposition Whip (Commons)

What steps she is taking to help support the steel industry.

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade) (jointly with the Cabinet Office)

The Government recognise the vital role of the steel sector, and are working with the sector to achieve a sustainable future. We have announced £500 million of support towards a joint £1.25 billion investment with Tata Steel to achieve the transformation of Port Talbot, and we are also in talks with British Steel. We have provided the steel sector with £730 million in energy costs relief since 2013, and announced the British industry supercharger—decisive measures to reduce energy costs for energy-intensive industries.

Photo of Tonia Antoniazzi Tonia Antoniazzi Opposition Whip (Commons)

In communities across the country—particularly in Wales through Port Talbot—steel has created high-paying, productive jobs for generations, but we are the only G7 country with a steel industry in decline. Thousands of jobs are being lost. What we need is a long-term plan that supports steelworkers and their communities to maintain those good jobs into the future and transition to net zero, so why is the Minister making short-term decisions instead of delivering on the long-term industrial strategy that communities such as mine, and our steel industry and workers, desperately need?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade) (jointly with the Cabinet Office)

That is just not correct, especially the comparisons to the G7. The decisions over Port Talbot have been hanging around for quite some time, and we were able to work with Tata Steel to ensure that jobs were confirmed long into the future. Tata Steel employs more than 8,000 people, and that was under serious threat until the investment was secured. Now consultation is taking place with the unions, and the reality is, as the media have noted, that the unions themselves are not sure how they want to take this forward. We were absolutely sure that we wanted steelmaking in that area and that jobs should be secured. That is why we offered the support that we did.

Photo of Holly Mumby-Croft Holly Mumby-Croft Conservative, Scunthorpe

I have written again to the Secretary of State to seek specific confirmation of the Government’s position on a virgin steelmaking sovereign capability in this country. Will she ensure that that specific question is addressed when I receive a response?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade) (jointly with the Cabinet Office)

My hon. Friend is first and foremost an advocate for the steelworks and steelworkers in her constituency. Obviously that letter will be on its way, and I thank her so much for raising it.

Photo of Sarah Jones Sarah Jones Shadow Minister (Industry and Decarbonisation)

We are used to this Government flip-flopping all over the place. It would be funny if it were not so serious for business, exports and jobs. So when we heard the Treasury telling everyone who would listen that the Government’s response to the carbon border adjustment mechanism would be in the autumn statement, we were not surprised that it was not. The future of steel investment and growth relies on a clear and certain path from Government. We cannot have our business disadvantaged any more, so what is the decision on the CBAM? If this Government cannot decide, is it not time to make way for one who can?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade) (jointly with the Cabinet Office)

Decisions have to be taken while responding to the consultations that take place. We have been absolutely determined to ensure that steelmaking will remain competitive in the UK, which is why we have been able to support the steel sector with high energy costs and put over £1 billion in place to deal with decarbonisation technology. When it comes to Tata, the support we have pledged involves an investment of over £1 billion to ensure that jobs remain secure in the future, and negotiations continue with British Steel as well. That is the support that we have provided and will continue to provide for steel in the UK.