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Steel Industry — [Mrs Madeleine Moon in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 11th May 2016.

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Photo of Tom Blenkinsop Tom Blenkinsop Labour, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland 2:30 pm, 11th May 2016

Indeed. In a spirit of cross-party politics, we want a positive response from the Scottish Government on revisiting that issue, looking at the contract and looking to British-sourced rebar steel, made in Britain by British workers, so that our British steel industry can thrive.

It is important to remember that, as my hon. Friend Stephen Kinnock has said, lack of customer confidence is the surest way to undermine the steel industry. The Government must work with Tata to ensure the continuity of client contracts. I know that a lot of work has been done on that in the background. It is essential to preserve the commercial viability of any sale. Retaining essential skills and competencies is vital for the future of the business. The highly skilled workforce cannot be allowed to fragment or disappear. Indeed, in 2010, £60 million was set aside by the then Labour Government to retain the existing workforce at Teesside Cast Products in Redcar. Not one hard redundancy was endured over a 22-month period among core Corus workers, to ensure that a purchase could allow a new owner to retain those workers. To avoid a fire sale and irreversible mistakes, the Government must demonstrate to all stakeholders in the industry that they are taking a proactive approach to ensuring the continuity of operations.

This is a time for leadership by the Government and no issue is more important for them to lead on than the lesser duty tariff. Europe currently uses the lesser duty rule to impose the lowest possible duties on unfairly traded products that have been dumped in European markets and exported at prices below those in the home market. Duties introduced by Europe are usually way below the actual margin of dumping, the result of which is that dumping continues and unfairly traded products are allowed to compete in European markets and depress prices.

The US does not follow the lesser duty rule, which means it can implement much tougher sanctions reflecting the margin of dumping. For example, it recently imposed duties of 236% on a particular grade of Chinese steel.