Skip to main content

Steel Industry: Government Support

Volume 608: debated on Wednesday 13 April 2016

We have been in extensive discussions with Tata for months, and it is due to Government intervention that Tata has agreed to a sales process rather than an immediate closure of its operations in Wales. I spoke to the hon. Gentleman before he went to the Tata meeting in Mumbai and have spoken to him since. I am keen to stay in regular contact in order to update him as the position changes. [Interruption.]

Order. These are important matters affecting the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people in Wales and across the country. Let us have some respect for that fact without Ministers wittering away— Mr Evennett—in the background. Important matters are being discussed. Be quiet, sir!

The Secretary of State will know that retaining the order book and customer base is critical for the Welsh steel industry. I want a short answer to a short question. Will the Secretary of State confirm whether he has had conversations with customers such as Honda, Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover to secure the integrity of the customer base? Yes or no.

My father was a welder at the Port Talbot plant for more than 30 years before he was made redundant several years ago. I am from that community and understand how important the steelworks is to the income of the area. My family has been through the good times when records have been broken and the difficult times when my father, like many others, was made redundant. The Government regularly engage with many of the companies, both suppliers and customers, that work with Tata. We are determined to do everything to support them.

Yesterday, the Business Secretary said we need to work together, cross-party, on this, and the Secretary of State for Wales has just said the same. I understand that he is to visit Shotton on Monday—when was he intending to tell me?

I would have hoped that the hon. Gentleman would be grateful for, or approving of, a visit from a UK Minister to Shotton. I have been responding to the calls from the local workers, but I was in Wrexham on the day that the news broke about Shotton, and I spoke to community leaders and business leaders about the impact. I said to the community, “As soon as more information becomes available, I will return.” That is why I am returning to Shotton next Monday, and I am pleased about it.