UK Steel Industry

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:42 pm on 9th July 2019.

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Photo of Gill Furniss Gill Furniss Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Steel, Postal Affairs and Consumer Protection) 5:42 pm, 9th July 2019

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairpersonship, Mr Hollobone, and I congratulate my hon. Friend Nic Dakin on having secured this debate. He is a champion for his community and the steel sector more widely, and I know he has been working hard on behalf of his constituents to press the Government for clarity during this time of crisis. I thank the steelworkers, the steel manufacturers, the trade unions—Unite, Community and GMB—and also UK Steel for their unwavering support for this fantastic industry. Such a coalition is rare, but it shows how important this issue is to our communities and our country.

On 22 May, British Steel collapsed, putting at risk 4,000 jobs directly and 20,000 jobs in the supply chain. That announcement came as a shock to thousands of steelworkers who worked against the odds to defend the company’s future, and I join the thousands waiting impatiently to hear some positive news about a new buyer. It is imperative that the Government prioritise a buyer for the whole steelworks, not parts, and I urge them to make every necessary support available so that we can secure the long-term future of the company.

For decades, the steel sector has been at the heart of communities, including mine in South Yorkshire. It has provided well-paid, well-skilled jobs, and over the years, through sheer determination and resilience, the sector has manoeuvred through some very choppy waters. When I joined the House in 2016, the steel sector was going through a severe crisis, which saw the collapse of the Redcar steelworks. My hon. Friend Anna Turley has spoken eloquently many times in this House championing the steel sector, and I believe she will continue to champion it till her last breath. We must never let such a collapse happen again. We have to collectively value and appreciate the importance of the steel sector, and although there are global and domestic challenges, including global overcapacity, there are also enormous opportunities.