UK Steel Industry

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:49 pm on 9th July 2019.

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Photo of Andrew Percy Andrew Percy Conservative, Brigg and Goole 4:49 pm, 9th July 2019

Absolutely. I do not need to repeat what my hon. Friend said; all that is true and demonstrates how important the industry is not just to our sub-region or region, but to the whole UK economy.

Where are we now? I thank the Minister and the Secretary of State for the positive way in which they have engaged with local stakeholders, unions, the councils and local Members of Parliament. I genuinely believe that this Government are trying to do everything they can to secure a future for the site. This is an independent procedure through the official receiver, but locally we do not want to see a partitioning off or a selling off of different parts of the business. We want to see the business sold in its entirety. For the reasons stated by the hon. Member for Scunthorpe in relation to the strategic importance of the industry, we have to continue producing steel in Scunthorpe.

The Government must stand ready to do all they can financially to support the industry. There are tens of millions of pounds that were available before the liquidation, which we have been assured remain available for any new partner on a commercial basis, as required by law. Can the Minister reconfirm that today? That would be appreciated.

We have to be honest about the situation if a buyer cannot be found. We know that we are down to a short list—it is good that there are number of buyers who are realistic prospects to purchase the business—but as I and other colleagues have repeatedly said, we must not be close-minded about any particular structure moving forward. Nationalisation does not get us over the problems of investment having to be on a commercial basis. That might or might not be an answer in and of itself, but it does not mean we should simply rule that option out, or the option of a public-private partnership. Every option should be considered by Government to ensure that the whole business can continue to operate.

We do not want the crumbs off the plate, as it were, and just a few hundred jobs saved if part of the business were sold separately. We want it to continue in its current form because it is so strategically important to UK plc.