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Llanwern Steelworks

Volume 82: debated on Monday 8 July 1985

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12.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has had any recent discussions with the chairman of the British Steel Corporation concerning the future of Llanwern steelworks.

I met the chairman in May and in June for wide-ranging discussions.

How much longer is the haggling, which is doing untold harm to the steelworks, to go on? Why do the Government not resolve to reaffirm the stand taken by the Secretary of State for the Environment in December 1982, which was that the five integrated plants should remain? Why do they not also announce the Concast scheme for Llanwern?

In a debate in which the hon. Gentleman took part, my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry said that the corporate plan would be presented to the Government by the end of July. In the light of that, I have nothing further to add, except to repeat that I am confident about the future of Llanwern.

Will the Secretary of State finally bring this matter to a conclusion? Can he not tell the country and the House that Llanwern will go ahead, and that it has a wonderful record? Will he finally make his mind up on the matter?

I have made my position and my confidence in the future of Llanwern absolutely clear. The right hon. Gentleman, who has had experience of the closure of steelworks while in government, will know that there are many difficult issues to be resolved about the future capacity and plans of the industry. The proper way for the Government to proceed is to wait for the proposals of the British Steel Corporation in its corporate plan, and then to take decisions on them.

Do not the splendid performances of both management and employees at the works at Llanwern and Port Talbot entitle them to some assurance that both these works will continue for a long time?

On many occasions I have said that the splendid performance of the workers at those two steel plants is by far the best guarantee of their future. As I have said, at present we are making a massive investment in Port Talbot, and I have great confidence in the future of Llanwern. While I have been in government I have, fortunately, never had to consider any proposal from the BSC for the closure of Llanwern. Therefore, some of the threats and allegations made have been purely hypothetical.