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Ravenscraig Steelworks

Volume 176: debated on Wednesday 18 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will arrange to meet representatives of the Ravenscraig steelworkers to discuss the future of the plant.

No, Sir. Representatives of the Ravenscraig work force have already met my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Now that we have a new Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, can we expect a new attitude towards Scottish steelworkers, who were treated with absolute contempt by the previous Secretary of State, who ironically stood by and watched Bob Scholey invest £100 million in Germany rather than in Scotland? In view of British Steel's failure to justify the closure of the hot strip mill and the resultant threat to the Ravenscraig plant, will the Department of Trade and Industry intervene now and tell Scholey that Ravenscraig must be retained in its entirety, in the interests of the Scottish economy and the British steel industry?

The Labour party is in no position to make such requests. Indeed, as far as I understand it, there is no difference in this respect between the policy of the Government and that of the Labour party. As my right hon. Friend the former Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pointed out on 20 June, the Labour party appears not to have the slightest intention of wanting to rescue Ravenscraig, to take the power to issue directives to British Steel or to offer it subsidies. If that is the position, there is really no difference between us. Of course, there is another possibility—that the Labour party wishes to nationalise British Steel, in which case, why does not it tell us so?