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UK Parliament Debate on the Steel Industry

By Tony Hartwell

Although there is no direct link with the E-Tech elements the recent debate in the House of Parliament touches on rleated issues, such as energy costs, carbon dioxide emissions and supply chain linkages.  Here is the motion that was introduced by  Labour MP for Hartlepool: -

"That this House recognises the importance of the UK steel industry including as a provider of highly-skilled jobs and research and development; values the steel supply chain which supports strategic industries such as automotive, aerospace and construction; notes with concern Tata’s proposed sale of its Long Products Division and the impact this could have on UK steel industry capacity; welcomes the efforts of UK steel producers to cut carbon emissions and expresses concern that losing trade to countries with less efficient processes could increase global carbon emissions; further notes with concern that some steel imports do not meet British standards; calls on the Government to recognise the importance of the steel industry and to work with it, the Scottish and Welsh Governments and trade unions to provide a co-ordinated plan for the industry’s future; urges the Government urgently to reconsider whether mitigating measures on energy prices, planned to start in April 2016, can be brought forward to support the competitiveness of UK steel producers, to press the European Commission to launch an inquiry into the CARES certification of imported steel products to ensure safety and traceability and to take action through the EU and World Trade Organisation to challenge the uncompetitive subsidisation of steel products; and further calls on the Government to introduce an active industrial policy for the metals industry, including strengthening supply chains, strategic approaches to public sector procurement, encouraging innovation, skills development and resource efficiency and providing support for steel exporters.

Manufacturing matters if Britain wishes to have a modern, dynamic and innovative economy. A vibrant manufacturing sector is vital to an economy that wishes to prioritise high value and secure jobs and improved productivity, and to see rising living standards for all. In turn, the steel industry is vital to the future competitiveness and flexibility of British manufacturing.

This is not a debate that harks back to an industrial past, although I am proud to say from the Dispatch Box that I come from a family of steelworkers. Both my grandfathers, Jimmy Wright and Alan Harland, were steelworkers for most of their working lives at the British Steel site in Hartlepool.

However, this debate is not about the past. It is focused on the future—on our long-term competitiveness as a leading economic nation and on what is needed to secure our place as one of the top-ranking economies in the 21st century. Steel has to be a key part of that vision of a modern, innovative economy. As our motion makes clear, the UK’s steel and metals sector provides highly skilled jobs in all parts of the United Kingdom, from Hartlepool and Teesside in God’s own country of the north-east to, among others, Sheffield and Scunthorpe; Corby; Deeside in north Wales; Cardiff, Port Talbot and Newport in south Wales; and Clydebridge and Motherwell in Scotland.

The economic contribution that those facilities make through the wealth that is created by the plants and the workers who make the steel, and the way in which that wealth is then circulated around firms and businesses in those areas, whether through the supply chain or the spending power of the steelworkers, is the foundation of many local economies. Indeed, we should stress that the steel industry is literally the foundation of many valuable sectors of the economy, forming part of a number of important value chains in manufacturing—the construction, automotive, aerospace and energy sectors, in which Britain has a competitive advantage and which all play a significant role in downstream activities for the steel industry."

Reporting of the debate which started at 4:44pm and finished at 7:00pm can be ccessed via the following links: -

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150114/debtext/150114-0003.htm#15011452000002

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150114/debtext/150114-0004.htm

 

 


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