The Scottish Government recognises the importance of steel manufacturing to Scottish industry, particularly in the construction and growing renewable energy markets. We provide a wide range of practical advice and support to companies, through the business gateway, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International.
Is the cabinet secretary aware that the North Lanarkshire Council Labour group has put out an election leaflet that says that all steel requirements for the new Forth bridge could have been sourced in North Lanarkshire? Does he agree that North Lanarkshire no longer has the capacity to provide a majority of the steel that is required to build a new bridge, given that Ravenscraig was closed by the Tories years ago? Does he also agree that, as usual, Labour is not being truthful at this time?
First, the Government does all that it can to support the development of manufacturing opportunities in Scotland. As Mr Ewing just said, a range of new opportunities in the manufacturing sector is emerging as a consequence of the clear policy direction that the Government has established in relation to the renewable energy sector, which will create employment and business opportunities for the steel industry in Scotland.
Secondly, Mr Lyle should not be surprised by anything that the Labour Party is prepared to put on a leaflet at this particular time in the calendar year.
I have a question on the steel industry, but first I ask the cabinet secretary to acknowledge that today is the last time in 36 years that Richard Lyle will be able to call himself Councillor Richard Lyle. It is appropriate to recognise the 36 years of service that he has given to the community in Orbiston and Bellshill.
Richard Lyle and I have not always agreed, and we will not agree on this issue. Will the cabinet secretary acknowledge that on 3 February representatives of the Scottish Trades Union Congress and Community trade union and local MSPs and MPs met Tata Steel to talk about the failure of the Scottish Government to award the contract that would have given Tata the opportunity to supply steel for the Forth bridge?
Dalzell steelworks is geared up to meet the demands of the offshore wind sector and it cannot afford to be overlooked in that respect. Will the cabinet secretary give a commitment that that will not happen?
Mr McMahon’s comments about Councillor Lyle—if I may still call him that—and his long public service as a local authority representative in the North Lanarkshire area were generous and well made. Of course, Richard Lyle continues to be a representative here in the Scottish Parliament, where he is very welcome. I associate the Government with Mr McMahon’s generous tribute.
As I said to Mr Lyle, the Government wants to do everything that it can to support the development of the steel industry in Scotland. Mr Ewing has met Tata Steel and has agreed that Scottish Development International will work with the company to ensure that Tata can meet all the opportunities in Scotland that it is able to meet. The renewable energy sector is a particular opportunity. That is why the Government sees renewables as being so redolent of employment and investment opportunities for Scotland. I saw more of that just over a week ago, when I was in Japan and Korea. We will pursue those opportunities for the maximum benefit of the people of Scotland, and I assure Mr McMahon that we will include Tata Steel, as one of the key producers in the Scottish economy.