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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Moon. I congratulate my hon. Friend Tom Blenkinsop on securing this most important debate.
Steel and the steel industry are vital to the UK, Wales and my constituency. The Tata steel plant in Port Talbot is in the neighbouring constituency of Aberavon and the Trostre plant is in the nearby constituency of Llanelli. Hundreds of my constituents go to work in those places every day. I have personal knowledge of the community that has grown up around the plants. My father worked at the site of the Steel Company of Wales, which is now Tata Steel. When I was at Cynffig Comprehensive School I played hockey for the Steel Company of Wales. It was the centre of the community. The plant put food on our plates at home and contributed enormously to our social and sporting lives. The same sense of community is felt today by the 4,500 workers and their families who still work at and depend on the plants.
A constituent of mine, Andrew, started as a technical apprentice at British Steel, Port Talbot, in 1994 and worked his way up to the role of laboratory manager. Having spent his entire working life at Port Talbot, Andrew is passionate about steel and the steel industry and is committed to its future in the local community, often championing the company and the apprenticeship schemes. Andrew has made a great many friends over the years, and many of these friendships are forged in a way that cannot happen in other industries; 12- hour shifts in a challenging environment pull people together in a way that makes them feel more like family, and when pain is felt by their colleagues it is felt by all.