UK Steel Industry

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:55 pm on 9th July 2019.

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Photo of Jessica Morden Jessica Morden Opposition Whip (Commons), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee) 4:55 pm, 9th July 2019

I thank my hon. Friend Nic Dakin for securing yet another debate about steel, for chairing the all-party parliamentary group on steel and metal related industries, and for being such a thoughtful and passionate advocate for our steel industry, and particularly his steel community, in difficult times. Steel workers in my constituency will be feeling for the steel workers in his constituency as we wait to hear about British Steel.

I pay tribute to steel workers and unions in my area, who have such pride in their industry and have made such sacrifices over recent years in this cyclical business. The communities of east Newport and over to Caldicott have been built on that pride. Most people have family or friends who have worked in the industry, but the current generation of steel workers live with the constant threat that their jobs are uncertain. They look towards Bridgend and what happened to Ford workers; they are understandably concerned and worried about problems in the automotive sector. That is not just because of the bonds of working in that industry, although that bond is real—Tata Steel’s Zodiac plant at Llanwern and the auto-finishing line depends on securing work from the automotive sector. We need the Government to urgently do all they can to ensure that our steel and automotive industries are open for business.

It is often said in such debates, but it worth repeating that steel is a foundation industry and a national asset. For our manufacturing industry and our economy to thrive we need our own steelmaking capacity. We must not neglect this foundation industry and end up importing our steel. My hon. Friend the Member for Scunthorpe reminded us in a recent debate, and again today, that the strongest economies in the world—the USA, China and Japan—have the strongest steel industries. We currently come in at number 30, and we must not fall further down the table.

I want to talk about Tata Steel’s Cogent Orb works in my constituency, which has been making steel since 1898. The 350 steel workers at Orb make electrical steel that has the potential to be used as the high-quality grain-oriented steel required to build electric vehicle motors. The automotive industry has been calling on the Government to support the production of a high volume of batteries required to support EV production in Britain and avoid the risk of importing from abroad. [Interruption.]