Ceramic and Brick Industries

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:46 pm on 15th June 2016.

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Photo of Ruth Smeeth Ruth Smeeth Labour, Stoke-on-Trent North 4:46 pm, 15th June 2016

And not give China MES to make the situation even worse. Let us be clear: these fears are not baseless. They have been raised time and again by all the major employers in the sector, including those in my constituency, and by GMB, the trade union that represents the sector, and which has done an incredible job in both the UK and Europe to highlight the challenges that MES would pose.

In the European Parliament, these concerns have been widely recognised. A recent vote against granting market economy status to China was overwhelming: 546 votes in favour of not granting MES, and just 77 against not doing so. Furthermore, the motion received support from British MEPs from across the whole political spectrum—Labour and Conservative—who were united, as I hope we are today. Does the Minister agree that that demonstrates just how valuable our EU membership is to the protection of British industry? Will she confirm whether the Government will listen to their European representatives and work with our EU partners to help block China’s bid?

It is heartening to see so many Members from both sides of the House here today; it is a sign, I hope, of the depth of feeling on the issue. We all want our excellent brick and ceramic industries to continue to grow, thrive and prosper; all we are asking for is a level playing field, so that those ambitions can be fulfilled.