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Steel Industry — [Mrs Madeleine Moon in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:49 pm on 11th May 2016.

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Photo of Anna Soubry Anna Soubry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills 3:49 pm, 11th May 2016

In a moment. I am happy to allow the hon. Gentleman a quick name check, but I want to make this point first: this Government have taken unprecedented action and given unprecedented support for our steel industry. This Conservative Government have said that we are willing for a potential buyer to look at investing hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money by way of debt financing. That includes looking at power plants, notably at Port Talbot, so that we can keep those blast furnaces open. We are also looking to take up to a 25% stake or share in that new company. That comes from a Conservative Government. If anyone had said that 12 months ago, they would have been laughed out. That is how seriously the Government take the importance of the steel industry, and that is what we are prepared to do.

We know that there is a bright future for the UK steel industry. Just look at what has happened in the past few months. Not only has Liberty House bought Tata’s Scottish plate mills at Dalzell and Clydebridge—I was delighted to be there when Tata literally handed the keys over to Liberty—but it has also brought most of the Caparo assets out of administration. We think that that might have saved up to 1,000 jobs. The continuing sale to Greybull of Tata’s long products division based in Scunthorpe is further evidence that the industry has a viable future.

The Government are committed to the record infrastructure investment programme. That is only possible because we continue to take the difficult decisions to keep the economy strong. HS2, Crossrail, the new aircraft carriers and the unprecedented procurement rule changes for publicly funded projects that we have made in recent months mean that the United Kingdom’s steel industry can compete and will win major public contracts.

I very much agree with Stephen Doughty. I was very pleased to visit the outstanding Celsa steel plant based in his constituency just a few months after my appointment last year. He levelled criticism at the SNP in Scotland and Margaret Ferrier. It really is not on. If I said, “Go and check out a website,” I would rightly be derided by Opposition Members, and properly so. The Scottish Government have to put their money where their mouth is and change the procurement rules. They have to copy and learn from what the United Kingdom Government have done and ensure that that steel in Aberdeen is going to British plants. There are no excuses now for that not happening. I am very proud of what we do.