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Steel Industry (Yorkshire)

Volume 497: debated on Monday 12 October 2009

The Petition of residents of Rotherham, and others,

Declares that the Petitioners are concerned about the decline of the steel industry in South Yorkshire.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to make time for a full debate on the state of the steel industry, and to bring forward recommendations, to be considered by the House, to ensure its survival.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr. Denis MacShane, Official Report,16 July 2009 Vol. 496, c. 554 .]

[P000396]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, received 8 September 2009:

The Government are deeply conscious of the importance of the steel industry to the people of Rotherham and the South Yorkshire region. Employees particularly at Corus sites in the area are worried about their jobs and the impact on their families and their communities; and suppliers are concerned about the future of their businesses.

We are fully engaged with Corus to try to secure the future for as many workers as possible. The Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills have spoken to Kirby Adams, Corus CEO about the matter on several occasions.

The current downturn has hit steel production across the globe and whilst job losses are always extremely regrettable, the UK steel industry is taking action to ensure that it is fit for the future.

Along with its partners in local government and the regions, the Government are bringing forward billions of pounds worth of infrastructure spending across the UK to help keep people and firms in work while private demand falls.

There will also be opportunities in the low carbon arena that will present significant market opportunities to UK steel makers and processors in the medium to longer term.

The Government accept these initiatives to stimulate demand will take time to feed through and have a real impact. That is why we are continuing to help the steel industry and why our focus is on training to help the industry get ready for the upturn in the economy when it comes.

The Government have offered up to £5million of training support to secure jobs across Corus sites. Through Train to Gain the Government are already making a significant investment to up-skill and re-skill Corus employees, including support for apprenticeships at the Corus Rotherham site. This reflects the high priority this Government place on continued investment in individuals and their skills during the downturn. Train to Gain is the Government’s flagship service offering support to employers in England to invest in the future productivity and profitability of their businesses by investing in the skills of their employees and support has been provided to other companies in the steel and metals industries.

The Government note that these matters were discussed in the House on 7 July during a Westminster Hall debate on the Future of the Steel industry secured by the right hon. Member for Rotherham (Denis MacShane). There was also a Westminster Hall debate on Support for the Steel Industry secured by the Hon Member for Brigg and Goole (Ian Cawsey) on 24 March.

In addition the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills took part in a Steel Summit hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Steel and Metal Related Industry Group on 14 May. There was a follow-up meeting of the All Party Group on 20 July which was attended by the Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills. At all these discussions, stimulating demand was seen as critical to the future of the steel industry and remains the key area that we will continue to address.