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

No, no—far from it. The hon. Gentleman invites me to move on to the next part of my response, which is about exactly this issue. One of the first parts of the sector deal is getting the sector to work together to say, “What is it that we collectively need going forward?” We had the “Future Capacities and Capabilities of the UK Steel Industry” report produced at the request of the industry; the Government paid for it with taxpayers’ money. It highlighted onshore opportunities that will be worth up to £4 billion a year by 2030. This is about customer demand and substituting for imports specialty steels, higher-quality steels or steels that can support the investments in the offshore wind industry—things that are now being imported. That opportunity exists for the UK plants and it is forming part of the sector deal.

As I have urged hon. Members to recognise before, we should not use the steel sector deal as a measure of how much the Government love the sector. The idea is not to have Government write it and say, “This is what you need to do.” It is for the industry to come together and set out what it needs and wants from Government. We have seen the publication of sector deals that directly benefit the industry that we are talking about. The automotive sector deal was an early one out of the traps. The automotive industry has already increased its use of UK-made content. That went up from 36% previously to 44% two years ago, and the aim is to reach 50% or more by 2022, as a direct result of the sector deal. The construction sector is a vital market for many of the steel products in this country, and we published the construction sector deal last Thursday. It aims to build homes and offices quicker than in the past and it also has commitments in relation to domestic content.

We are absolutely committed to securing a steel sector deal that works for Government, industry and employees. It would be unfair to blame any delay on my hard-working officials. This is about getting the right deal—one that is not just a simple request for money but is saying, “What are we collectively going to do to increase productivity and competiveness, so we can invest again in these steel plants and create jobs in these important areas?”