2015 Steel Summit Commitments

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 10:59 am on 10th July 2018.

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Photo of Anna Turley Anna Turley Labour/Co-operative, Redcar 10:59 am, 10th July 2018

My hon. Friend makes an important point. Three years on, it is vital that we look at the crisis we were in, where we are now and the impact of any measures brought in. He is right to put that suggestion forward. I remember his raising it on the Floor of the House at the height of the steel crisis and being met with guffaws and laughter, as if a steel summit would be an irrelevance and meaningless. It actually acted and secured some outcomes. He is absolutely right that three years on is the time for an update and to pull the sector and the industry together to look at what more we need to do.

Our key asks have been put forward again and again in applications for a steel sector deal. This process started in 2016, and we are still waiting. The issue appears to have been kicked into the long grass, and the complete absence of progress on a sector deal in the last 10 months has meant no improvements in levelling the playing field for UK steel makers. The longer we delay bringing forward a sector deal, the more time we lose to prepare the industry for the future challenges.

Those challenges are already emerging, such as in Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports into the US. That underlines what my hon. Friend said about this being an important time to come together and take stock of the implications of the new world that we are in. The tariffs will cause the UK to lose out not just in the direct hit to our exports but, as my hon. Friend Mr Bailey said, from the diversionary effect as global steel makers look for another market to sell to.

I will finish by talking about why this matters. There are some, including in government, who continue to view steel as a sunset industry that has had its day, and which they would prefer to see in managed decline. That is a short-sighted and pessimistic view of an industry that should be at the heart of the UK’s ambitions for the future. Steel—especially many of the specialist types that the UK manufactures—is a crucial component for so many areas of Britain’s industrial landscape. It underpins our industries, from aerospace to automotive.

Steel has huge future potential. For instance, the Materials Processing Institute in my constituency is working to develop new specialist steels that will form part of the future export market. The industry is crucial to our industrial and manufacturing competitiveness. We have to value domestic production, not through protectionism but by empowering it with a fair playing field.

I secured the debate because progress in supporting British steel has stalled. My constituents and I know too well what complacency can mean for steel jobs in the UK. I hope Ministers will listen and take a renewed interest in backing our steel industry.