Queen's Speech debate

I called for action to support Newport’s Orb steelworks during the first day of debates on the Queen’s Speech in Parliament this week.

Last week I led a Westminster Hall debate on Orb, highlighting that it is the only plant in the UK producing electrical steel, and could with investment make electrical steel for electric vehicles.

In my speech during the Queen’s Speech debate, I criticised the government for a lack of measures to support the manufacturing sector and having nothing of note to say on steel.

I said “Orb is the only plant in the UK producing electrical steel. With investment, it could make electrical steel for electric vehicles, allowing the UK to have an end-to-end supply chain. If we lose this plant, we will lose that chance and have to import the steel for electric motors. There is a plan to save the plant. Community union and its consultants, Syndex, are calling for Tata to reinvest money from the sale of Cogent Power Inc in Canada into the Orb and for the UK Government to help by investing £30 million. That would be just a small proportion of the total the Government have awarded Jaguar Land Rover, which is owned by Tata, which has secured a £500 million loan guarantee to help the company sell electric vehicles.”

“We need concerted investment in the electric vehicle supply chain. Orb can be a vital cog in the wheel. It can be part of the infrastructure strategy that the Government alluded to in the Queen’s Speech. If we did that, we could save the only electrical steel plant in the UK, which could and should have a bright future as demand for electric vehicles is only set to grow. Labour has said that we will accelerate the electric vehicle revolution with 2.5 million interest-free loans for the purchase of electric vehicles, a new requirement for the Government car fleet to be 100% electric by 2025 and action on the private fleet. The Labour party is determined to ensure that the right conditions are in place for this revolution, and the Government should be too. If the Orb works is not kept open, the potential to build a supply chain will be squandered, and it is not an overstatement to say that the UK could lose its capacity to be a global leader in electric car manufacturing.”

“Where is the vision from this Government? If they are serious about making the UK the home of electric vehicles, they will work with Tata to step in and save this plant. What is there in this Queen’s Speech to help the wider steel industry? There is no action. Where is the sector deal? Where is the support on energy prices? Where is the concrete action on procurement? The Steel Council has not even met since June 2018, and we need it to now. I would like to thank the hundreds of people who marched this weekend to save Orb steel, including many of my hon. Friends, and I hope that the show of support was noted by Ministers. Can the Minister here today relay to the Steel Minister that he needs to be proactive and promise to engage with Community, Syndex and Tata to secure this plant’s future?”

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