UK Steel Industry

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:30 pm on 9th July 2019.

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Photo of Anna Turley Anna Turley Labour/Co-operative, Redcar 5:30 pm, 9th July 2019

I am extremely grateful to the Chair, because I was barely pausing for breath. I can get back into my stride.

Innovation is crucial. Mr Clarke mentioned the Materials Processing Institute, which is in my constituency. It is doing fantastic work. It has been around for 75 years; it was formed just after D-Day. It has a fantastic vision for innovation: new technologies, decarbonised steel, the digitisation of the steel and metals sector, and a circular economy for steel, alloys and rare metals. Those are really important innovations. If we do not support originations and businesses that are doing that work, I am afraid we will see more redundancies and job losses, and the loss of a huge amount of capacity and capability. Therefore, innovation must be at the cutting edge of productivity, and we must support innovation experts such as the MPI, which are at the heart of this.

Like other hon. Members, I want to highlight the importance of the long-term issues that we have raised time and time again in this place. We need action on energy prices, business rates and procurement. I hope that the long-awaited sector deal is not a figment of our imagination and that we will live to see one for the steel sector. Sector deals are as important for our sector as they are for the many other sectors that have had a response and engagement from the Government. That would send a clear signal that the Government are committed to the steel industry and want to do business with the private sector.

I will end on Brexit. The industry has been very clear that there is no Brexit deal that would bring benefits to the British steel industry. That is just a fact. Of course, the disaster of no deal cannot be underestimated. We would see 97% of our exports subject to trade restrictions, and 25% tariffs to the EU—£1 million per day for the steel industry in this country. We would lose access to £1.6 billion of research funds for coal and steel. As my hon. Friend the Member for Scunthorpe said, no deal means no steel. The industry could not be clearer about that.

I pay tribute to the Secretary of State, and I am grateful to the Minister for coming to respond. I know that he gets it. I know that the Government are trying to do all they can for British steel, and that he understands the importance of this industry to our country, our defence, our manufacturing and our place in the world. Unfortunately, the future of this proud industry hangs in the balance once again. I look forward to the Minister doing his part.