On Monday I took part in an Opposition Day Debate on Protecting Britain’s Steel Industry.
Labour was seeking to force legislation that would allow Ministers to overrule the Trade Remedies Authority’s findings to drop almost half of the safeguards put in place to protect domestic production – and therefore stop the threat of cheap steel imports flooding in from overseas.
I said: “The House will be aware of Celsa steelworks in my constituency, and I pay tribute to the management and workers there and to the trade union Community, across south Wales. GMB and Unite do so much to stand up for steelworkers, and I also pay tribute to UK Steel. I must also acknowledge the sensible co-operation between the UK Government and the Welsh Government in support of the steelworks in my constituency during this past difficult year, and that is why it was so disappointing to hear such a weak speech from the Minister.
“It will have disappointed steelworkers and steel communities up and down the country, because it simply failed to engage with the issues that they and their industry are facing, or with the challenges to the thousands of jobs not only in those plants but downstream in critical manufacturing and infrastructure projects that depend on British steel.
“The steel produced in my constituency’s plant is crucial to British national infrastructure, defence projects, infrastructure projects such as Crossrail and Hinkley, and our rail infrastructure. If it is put at risk, as it has been many times in the past, by cheap imports flooding in from places such as China, Iran and Turkey, that will be an absolute absurdity – not least because our steel is produced in an electric arc furnace from recycled steel in one of the most clean and efficient processes. Why on earth would we want that to be Column 687is located heresubstituted, to see our carbon emissions offshored to China, our high-quality steel replaced at the heart of British national infrastructure projects by lower-quality steel from China?
“The Government are letting down workers up and down the country, instead of taking action at this critical time. We do not want to go back to that crisis of the past when there is an opportunity for steel to be at the heart of our future.”
Sadly, Labour’s motion did not pass as Tory MPs voted against the move that would have offered crucial protections to our steel industry.