Yesterday I took part in another debate about the future of steel making in the UK. I have copied my speech below and also a link to the full debate for those who would like to read it.
“Like other hon. Members, this morning I met steelworkers from my constituency and officials from Community union. No Member who meets any constituent affected by this situation can be in any doubt about its gravity or the scale of the crisis. As speaker after speaker will say here today, this is a critical time for steel; we feel that our industry is on the edge.
Quite rightly, in the numerous debates and urgent questions we have had over the past few weeks, the focus has been on the devastating impact on Redcar, Dalzell, Clydebridge and Scunthorpe. In my constituency, we want to convey our solidarity with the steelworkers and their families, communities and trade unions in what is an unbearably difficult time. Steelworkers in my constituency are feeling it too. Nine weeks ago, Tata announced that it was mothballing the hot strip mill in Llanwern, the cold mill and one of the pickle lines, and on the remaining pickle line the tonnage would be reduced. The effect of the mothballing is that 175 contractor roles will end this week, and 100 Tata Steel employees will be redeployed to Port Talbot and other south-east Wales sites.
This is the third time that the hot strip mill has been mothballed in six years, but the crucial difference this time is that we do not know when it will open again. Llanwern is now Tata’s flex plant, with the mills coming on and off line depending on market conditions, leaving local workers, especially contractors, feeling the pain. The dynamics of the market are plain to see.
The Secretary of State for Wales talked about the global challenges, but we need the Government to act where they can. The shadow Secretary of State referred to the tsunami of Chinese steel imports. For Llanwern, action on energy costs is crucial; it is particularly affected by those costs because it takes energy straight from the grid. Llanwern has also been affected by action taken in the United States in defence of its steel market. We have talked also about the action in Italy. We need to talk too about what we can do to protect our own industry in our constituencies.
Nearly two weeks on from the steel summit, what action have we had on energy costs and on major construction projects? Electrification will run through my constituency, and we hope that UK steel will be involved. I say to the Government: please act now; please do not wait. In debates like these, we always talk about the sacrifices that steelworkers have had to make over their terms and conditions during difficult times for their companies. They need the Government to act now, to be pro-active and to have an industrial strategy to help steel in the future.”
You can read the full debate by following this link: