UK Steel Industry

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:29 pm on 9th July 2019.

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Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Opposition Whip (Commons) 4:29 pm, 9th July 2019

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right; to its credit, North Lincolnshire Council has shown strong cross-party unity and leadership on this issue by signing up to the procurement of UK steel. A number of local authorities across the country have done so, but many more could follow that lead, and he is right to call for that action.

All Government Departments, bodies and infrastructure projects that purchase large quantities of steel should sign up to the UK steel charter, committing to specific, ambitious actions to increase the amount of UK steel used in public projects. The guidelines should be extended to cover all major public procurement and infrastructure projects. The good practice exemplified by Network Rail and Heathrow airport should be the rule, not the exception.

The fifth ask is to use the UK’s €250 million share of the research fund for coal and steel, which is paid for by industry levies and will be returned after we leave the EU, to secure an ambitious programme of innovation for the UK steel sector. A practical use for that money would be investment in our steel sector’s future. The previous Steel Minister made a commitment on behalf of the Government to convene a steel summit to consider how to realise a steel sector deal that would take the industry, its supply chain and the country forward. Will the Minister confirm that the Government will take forward that commitment? Will he respond positively to the practical suggestions I have made about how the Government can act to back steelworkers, steelmakers and UK plc?