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Volume 588: debated on Thursday 20 November 2014

Our industrial strategy sets the long-term direction needed to give manufacturers confidence to invest and compete internationally. We are encouraging technology commercialisation, exports, investment, improving skills, and building UK supply chains. I am sure my hon. Friend will join me in congratulating Cumbria local enterprise partnership, which has been awarded £5 million under regional growth fund round 3 to support specialist manufacturers.

A flourishing sawmill on the edge of Carlisle employs 120 people. Those in the timber industry are concerned that they are not included in the proposed relief scheme for the indirect cost of renewables, despite being accepted as an energy-intensive industry under the climate change agreement. That could give a competitive advantage to imported timber. Will the Minister look at the industry’s case and report back to me?

I will certainly look at that—indeed, we already are. The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the more general issue of energy-intensive industries, and we have sought to achieve relief through compensation under the European Union emissions trading system and the carbon price floor. We have recently consulted on how to extend that relief in respect of renewable obligations and the feed-in tariff. That consultation has just ended and will incorporate industries depending on their energy intensity and trading capacity. We will announce the results shortly.

The steel industry is vital to manufacturing in the United Kingdom. Will the Secretary of State take the opportunity to tell the House exactly what has been happening with Tata Steel’s proposed sale of its long products division?

Members across the House are concerned about the future of the long products division in Tata Steel. As the hon. Gentleman may know, I have had discussions with Cyrus Mistry in India, chief executive of Tata, and I recently met Mr Klesch, who has an interest in taking on that business. We are in close touch with Members across the House on the progress of those discussions, and I will report back when developments arise.

While the Secretary of State is right and the Government have set out a national industrial strategy, will he put on record his praise for the job creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs in Shropshire who have created more than 1,000 jobs in the last year in agri-engineering, food manufacturing, car parts manufacturing, and the manufacturing that is being brought back from Europe and put into Shropshire?

The hon. Gentleman describes a powerful trend. I am delighted that it is operating in his constituency and I congratulate the firms concerned. He refers to the process of onshoring production that had gone overseas, and I believe that around one in 10 British manufacturers are now considering that process. I have recently come back from India where I met a company called Amtek that is bringing car supply chain and production back to the UK—it may even be in the hon. Gentleman’s county.

My hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Mr Roy) has already mentioned the importance of the UK steel industry, which underpins much of our manufacturing industry. Is the Secretary of State also aware of cheap imported steel being dumped into domestic markets, failing British standards and raising question marks about quality, traceability and reliability? Reinforcing steel used in the UK is certified under the CARES scheme. Is he confident that that scheme is working as well as it could be? What steps is he taking to ensure that such steel is tested, compliant with British standards, traceable and safe?

That issue has been brought to my attention by British producers and it is a legitimate question. I am in the middle of an inquiry into whether the testing process operates effectively and takes proper account of different standards as between UK producers and those overseas. We have no ideological view on anti-dumping. It is a matter of proof and fact and operates through the European process, as the hon. Gentleman knows.