Questions I have asked in Parliament this week about the lack of Government action for the steel industry following the steel summit.
Questions to the Leader of the House of Commons
Jessica Morden Last October, the Government hosted a steel summit at which the UK steel industry laid out the urgent actions it needed them to take to protect it in extremely challenging times. Can we have an update from Business, Innovation and Skills Ministers on how fast the Government are acting? Although there has been some movement on energy costs, many areas still need Government action and the situation is critical.
Chris Grayling:Obviously, this is an ongoing concern for Members, and not just those with steel concerns in their constituencies. I will certainly ask for an update from my colleagues in the Business Department. They are not due back in this House soon, so I will ask them if they will write to the hon. Lady with an update. There was due to be a Westminster Hall debate on steel this afternoon, but I believe that the Member who secured it has withdrawn it, which is a shame. I have no doubt there will be other opportunities to debate the issue shortly.
Jessica Morden: Before the Minister concludes, may I ask her to address the issues that are currently affecting the steel industry? During the steel summit back in October, UK Steel presented a strong case for the urgent action it needed the Government to take. Some recognised the Government good will in relation to energy prices and energy costs, but I must impress on the Minister that this is a very difficult time for steel, particularly in the south Wales area I represent. Yes, the Government have acted on energy costs, but what are they doing about the other issues that were raised at the summit?
Anna Soubry, Minister of State for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise We are absolutely delivering, and not just on energy costs. I am hugely proud of the way in which we have changed the procurement rules. The hon. Lady knows that we are determined to continue to do everything we can to keep what the Prime Minister has called a vital industry in production. We do not want to see the blast furnaces close at Port Talbot any more than we want to see them close at Scunthorpe. I note that the hon. Member for Redcar (Anna Turley), as ever, is present. No doubt she will want to intervene at this point, but I must move quickly on; perhaps she will join in the debate later. Let me say to her that if we could have done anything to secure SSI, we would have, because we recognise the importance of the steel industry to the British economy. She can have that assurance. Indeed, the same is true at Dalzell and at Clydebridge. I pay tribute to the Scottish Government: I have been pleased to work with the Deputy First Minister in trying to ensure that we do all we can to keep those two plants open in Scotland.
Trade, exports, innovation and productivity are vital components of the Government’s strategy. That is why we have developed a clear plan of action, and why Scotland, and indeed all parts of the United Kingdom, benefit from our continued commitment to those key priorities. Scotland has been a part of the economic and jobs success story of the last six years as our economic plan for the whole United Kingdom continues to deliver economic security and prosperity for all our people. The biggest threat to businesses, growth and jobs would be a Scotland isolated and cut off from the United Kingdom, led by a party that wants to return to the failed policies of more spending and more borrowing that led us to economic oblivion last time.
Let us stick to the plan that has rescued our economy from the brink and turned it into the fastest-growing economy in the advanced world, and is now tackling the long-term structural issues head on to ensure that there is a more secure future not just for our children but, notably, for our grandchildren. I will not support the motion, and I urge other Members not to support it either.