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Sheffield Forgemasters

Volume 513: debated on Thursday 8 July 2010

3. What factors he took into account in deciding to withdraw the £80 million loan facility to Sheffield Forgemasters. (6680)

Will the Secretary of State withdraw the entirely false accusations that were levelled at Graham Honeyman, the chief executive of Sheffield Forgemasters, that he was not prepared to sell any shares in the company? The reality is that the loan facility went alongside a private finance package involving equity release. What Graham Honeyman and the workers, 65% of whom own shares in Forgemasters, did not want to do was sell the company off to an absentee owner, given that they had rescued it from an absentee owner and near-bankruptcy in 2005. Will the Secretary of State withdraw the accusations against Graham Honeyman and recognise that he has resurrected that company and that it would do even better in future if it had the loan alongside a package involving equity release?

The Government’s decision has absolutely nothing to do with the issues that the hon. Gentleman has raised. We regard Mr Honeyman and his team as having produced an excellent project. We have no criticism of him or the company. Officials in the Department are now working to try to help to achieve a private sector solution.

I yield to no one in my admiration for Graham Honeyman, having visited Sheffield Forgemasters when I was shadow Minister following the floods that devastated the company. However, will my right hon. Friend explain why, of all the grants and loans issued by Yorkshire Forward, north Yorkshire gets less than the 11% share to which it would be entitled and—

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Given the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, may I indicate that I would like to seek to raise this matter on the Adjournment at a further date?