In Parliament today I criticised the UK Government for failing the British steel industry.
My intervention follows the release of a new report from the cross-party Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee which criticises Ministers for being ‘unwilling’ to engage with the steel sector’s requests on energy prices and business rates, and ‘rebuffing’ the industry’s ambitious proposals for a sector deal.
Speaking in BEIS questions today, I said “Today’s BEIS Select Committee report singles out the steel industry as having been particularly failed by this Government’s industrial strategy. On behalf of the steel sector in my constituency when will the Government get back around the table to take action on issues like energy prices?”
In response, Business Minister Richard Harrington agreed to hold roundtable talks to discuss how to progress a sector deal for steel.
The new BEIS Select Committee Report paints a damning picture of the Government’s approach to sector deal negotiations, concluding that the government has in their words ‘misrepresented’ the steel sector’s proposals and has been unwilling to conclude a deal. The department’s own research has identified market opportunities worth up to £3.8 billion a year for UK steel producers by 2030 – including 3 million tonnes of steel to be used in government infrastructure projects – which makes the Government’s failure to thoroughly engage with the steel sector all the more frustrating.
I await further details on the Minister’s pledge in the chamber today to set up a steel roundtable, and hope to be able to contribute to this with colleagues in the All Party Group on Steel. It’s time for the Government to meet its commitment to developing the UK steel industry, which is so important to the economy of Newport East, South Wales and the country as a whole.