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Steel Industry — [Mrs Madeleine Moon in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:37 pm on 11th May 2016.

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Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Fair Work and Employment) 3:37 pm, 11th May 2016

I have given a commitment that my speech will be very brief, to allow steel MPs to have their say, so for that reason I will not take interventions.

The Government must bring forward a credible strategy for heavy industry in the UK and take similar concerted action to save steel plants, steel jobs and steel communities in England and Wales. There have been job losses at UK steel plants for a number of years, especially as a result of Chinese steel, as has been outlined. The warning signs were there for the industry. The UK Government have been slow to act in the face of these challenges.

We urge the UK Government to work with trade unions and potential investors as the Scottish Government have done, to find a future for the workers at the English and Welsh steel plants. In the short term, it is critical that strong anti-dumping measures are secured with our EU partners. Whereas the EU imposed a tariff of up to 16% on dumped Chinese cold-rolled steel, the US recently fixed duties on it at 266%. As the hon. Member for Corby said at Prime Minister’s questions earlier today and indeed in this debate, we wonder whether the Prime Minister’s recent meetings with the US President, Barack Obama, allowed him to learn from the way that the US has acted in this regard.

The Business Secretary was reportedly the ringleader in blocking the EU’s attempts to regulate Chinese steel entering Europe—that is according to a spokesperson for the European Steel Association. That would be indefensible. Moreover, the Scottish Government have been excluded from talks on steel dumping, which is also outrageous, despite our request to be involved because of our interest in Scottish plants.

I take the opportunity again to pay tribute to and congratulate the hon. Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland on securing this debate, and I offer our support and solidarity as he and others in this House work to deliver a bright future for the steel industry in this country.