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Tata Steelworks: Newport

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:15 pm on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office 4:15 pm, 8th October 2019

I will pass on the strong demand that the hon. Member for Newport East has made for the council to meet. In terms of what I can offer, and the direct request for meetings with Ministers about the Orb plant, I am more than happy to arrange to do that. That was the second part of her request.

Although there are considerable challenges, we believe there remain great opportunities for the industry to secure a successful, sustainable future at the centre of British manufacturing. The announcement on 2 September 2019 that Tata is to close its Orb Electrical Steels plant in Newport has understandably been a huge blow for employees, their families, contractors, suppliers and customers. I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her commitment to working with Government and other stakeholders, including the Community union, to help secure the future of the business, both in her role as MP for Newport East and as an officer for the all-party parliamentary group on steel and metal-related industries, many of whose members are in the Chamber.

The Government have worked with Tata to seek possible solutions to the financial challenges facing the company. We have also met with the unions to discuss the concerns of the workers and their families. This was a commercial decision by Tata Steel Europe. The Orb Electrical Steels plant has been on sale for two years, but sadly Tata was unable to find a buyer. We are open to considering plans that would deliver a long-term, sustainable future, based on a clear business plan, but as I am sure hon. Members realise, that cannot just be based on an ongoing subsidy or on merely hoping that business will come forward. We have sought and had reassurance from Tata that every effort will be made to mitigate the impact on affected employees. It is offering alternative employment opportunities where possible at other Tata Steel sites. The UK Government are committed to working with Tata to avoid job losses as a result of any closure of the Orb steel plant, as Tata is one of the most important employers in Wales. We will keep all options open to support a sustainable future for that plant and for Tata elsewhere in Wales.