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Steel Industry: Wales – [Sir Gary Streeter in the Chair] | Westminster Hall debates

That is not my understanding—no. What we are trying to focus on in any conversations we have about any industry on steel is what the future is and where we go from here—that is the important question.

My advice to the Minister is to go to the hon. Member for Ashfield (Lee Anderson) and talk to him about when he worked down the mines, and what happened to his communities when the mines shut—the cliff edge, the redundancies, and the closure of all the community assets that went with it. That is what we risk doing in Port Talbot with the cliff edge that we face—nearly 3,000 jobs, as well as the huge knock-on impact of one job in the plant linked to three jobs in the community. Let us not lose 3,000 jobs in Port Talbot. Do not spend half a billion pounds on that. Let that not be the Government’s legacy.

It is not too late; there is an alternative that we could all work towards. The multi-union plan helps us to transition in a way that protects jobs. That is what the Government should be talking about to Tata. It is not too late for the Government to have a steel strategy, to spend taxpayers’ money in a way that works for the UK, our economy and our security, and to listen to their own work, if not Labour’s. The Government’s 2017 review, “Future capacities and capabilities of the UK steel industry”, identified the barriers to growth: supply chains, competitiveness, skills, and research and development capability. Has the Minister read that? What is the Government’s response to that review from 2017? It could do with an update now but the basics are there. The Harrington review is clear:

“The reality is that many of our competitors chase investments via their industrial strategies backed by substantial government support…The UK needs to respond.”

Has the Minister read the Harrington review and what is the response on steel? What is the Government’s steel strategy?

Ministers talk about how important scrap is going to be, and of course it is for electric arc furnaces, but how are they incentivising measures to keep our scrap here rather than exporting it, which is currently the case? Ministers talk about how we need new technology, but electric arc furnaces are not really the new technology any more—they are years old. What are we doing to take us towards a direct reduced iron facility in the UK using hydrogen? What is the plan? What is the plan to grow the steel industry and where is the ambition? What are the Government doing about carbon border adjustment mechanisms? The steel industry will be exposed to unfair competition, so what is the Minister going to do about that? What is the plan on skills, and what is the Government’s view of the multi-union plan for steel in Port Talbot?

Many of the manufacturing industries that I meet across different sectors are at a crossroads. Bills are high, there is no strategy to support them, they are reducing their output and they are struggling to find people to work with them. The steel industry in Wales is a case in point; the Government’s last-minute, chaotic deal was a masterclass in how not to run the transition. Members across the House are worried about the future of the UK steel industry. Members across the House do not want thousands of steel workers to lose their jobs.