2015 Steel Summit Commitments

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 11:12 am on 10th July 2018.

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Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth) 11:12 am, 10th July 2018

I am happy to read the primary source. I have seen many of those recommendations, which inform our response to the Helm review.

I was making the point that other countries have taken policy decisions to put the costs that would in this country be borne by industrial customers on to household bills. We have ended up in a situation in which some of our industrial energy bills are higher than average, but our household bills are lower than average. Those policy levers are difficult to change; we all support, for example, the energy price cap Bill that we will bring forward later this week.

However, as the hon. Member for Redcar pointed out, we have spent more than £250 million in compensation specifically for the steel sector and other energy-intensive industries to help to mitigate those policy costs as we transition to a low-carbon future. We successfully pressed for the introduction of trade defence instruments to protect UK steel producers from unfair dumping. We set out visibility on the pipeline going forward, which I know was a big ask from hon. Members in the room.

The Government plan to procure construction contracts that will use 3 million tonnes of UK steel over the next five years, which is enough to build 170 Wembley stadiums. I understand the comment from Angela Smith on the Swansea bay tidal lagoon. Believe me, I worked so hard on those numbers, but to build the country’s most expensive ever power station basically to create a couple of dozen jobs was just not economically effective when compared with other opportunities in all our constituencies.

The power of Government procurement should not to be underestimated. Every Government steel contract in England is now required to consider its social and economic impact on local communities and what those decisions mean for the constituencies we are all so proud to represent.

We are grateful for the constructive proposals put forward by the steel council. I asked for guidance on this. The steel council, which I was proud to chair when I was the relevant Minister, met last in June and will meet again before September. It now meets regularly, and that is an opportunity to discuss the current challenges but also for the industry to work together. Historically, members of the industry have not sat around a table and worked together on the outlook and productivity investments; it has had a very competitive mindset. The industry working together and with Government is a very important part of the plan as we go forward.