Steel Supply Chain Jobs

Business and Trade – in the House of Commons at on 2 May 2024.

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Photo of Stephen Kinnock Stephen Kinnock Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Immigration)

What steps she is taking to support jobs in steel supply chains.

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

The UK Government’s £500 million grant will safeguard steelmaking in Port Talbot, 5,000 jobs in the company and thousands more in supply chains across the UK that would otherwise have been under serious threat. The transition board, with a further £100 million of funding—£80 million from the UK Government and £20 million from Tata—will also support those affected. That funding will help supply chain businesses to strengthen and diversify their customer base, creating sustainable jobs and business opportunities in Port Talbot and the wider region.

Photo of Stephen Kinnock Stephen Kinnock Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Immigration)

When it is finally introduced, the carbon border adjustment mechanism will provide a vital tool to ensure that British steelworkers have a level playing field so that they can compete against heavily polluting steel industries in other parts of the world, but recent media reports have indicated that India is lobbying No. 10 for an exemption from the UK CBAM. Does the Minister recognise that CBAMs work only if they are comprehensive across all countries and sectors, and if we start giving exemptions here or there the entire policy will unravel? That is particularly important given that Tata’s plan for Port Talbot is based on importing millions of tonnes of semi-finished product steel from India, a country that produces its steel with significantly higher carbon intensity. Will the Minister confirm that under no circumstances will India be given an exemption from the UK carbon border adjustment mechanism? A yes or no answer will suffice.

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

I was pleased to visit the hon. Gentleman’s constituency as part of my first round of visits in this new role. I look forward to meeting him again later this month. He is right that the Government are committed to ensuring that UK decarbonisation efforts lead to a true reduction in global emissions. The CBAM policy is still being designed. The consultation is ongoing, and I recommend that he contributes to it.

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

Residents in Scunthorpe are particularly concerned about steel supply chain jobs related to virgin steelmaking. My hon. Friend’s predecessor, my hon. Friend Ms Ghani, was very clear from the Dispatch Box that we obviously need a place for virgin steelmaking in the UK, and that that place is Scunthorpe. Will he confirm that he agrees with her, and that nothing is off the table in his negotiations with British Steel?

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

I was pleased to visit my hon. Friend’s constituency to meet steelworkers and British Steel management during my visits last month. I know that she is a passionate and dedicated champion for her community and for steelworkers there. I look forward to meeting her again next week ahead of the visit of the Secretary of State to her constituency, and to discussing these matters and others.

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

No commitment to virgin steel from the Minister, then—what a shame. I welcome him to his place, and note that he visited Port Talbot steelworks last week, but he failed to meet any actual steelworkers of course. Instead of avoiding discussing the Government’s plans for £500 million of taxpayers’ money for the loss of nearly 3,000 jobs, will he please commit to meeting some Port Talbot steelworkers, and will he publish his economic assessment of the impact of the UK losing its capacity to make virgin steel—or is his actual plan to just keep his head down until the Prime Minister finally has the guts to call a general election and leave all these problems piling up for somebody else?

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

This Conservative Government have given more support to the steel sector than any Government before us. When I went to Port Talbot, I was pleased to meet steelworkers, and I will continue to do so. I also sit on the transition board. I will continue to support steel in south Wales and all the opportunities that the sector will bring.