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British Manufacturers

Volume 404: debated on Thursday 1 May 2003

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If she will make a statement on measures in the Budget designed to support British manufacturers.[110641]

The Budget includes a number of measures that will support British manufacturers: in particular, the research and development tax credit, from which manufacturers already benefit; deregulatory reforms to ease the regulatory burden on small businesses; and further support to improve levels of skills throughout the UK work force.

Much of manufacturing business needs to use steel somewhere in its processes. There is little in the Budget for such businesses, who are deeply concerned about what has been happening at Corus and about the fact that the Secretary of State seems to have been totally complacent in response to those events. What are the Government's proposals for the future of the UK steel industry?

We are all extremely concerned about the job losses at Corus, which have been going on for some years, and the prospect of further losses in some parts of the company. As the hon. Gentleman would expect, I have been talking to the company, to the trade unions and to hon. Members who represent steel constituencies to ensure that we support that company and its outstanding work force in securing a successful future for the steel industry. That is of huge importance not only to the workers at Corus, for whom this is a time of enormous anxiety, but to the whole of our manufacturing industry. I welcome the fact that the new leadership at Corus is putting in place a strategy that is designed to return the company to profitability and to ensure that it remains at the heart of a high-volume, strategic and successful steel industry in the United Kingdom.