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Volume 686: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2020

The House needs only to look at the £30 million loan we secured for Celsa to see our commitment to Welsh manufacturing industry. We also provided over £2 billion in direct support to businesses in Wales, and our 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution will mobilise £12 billion of Government investment to stimulate manufacturing across the whole of the UK.

The delays in the Brexit deal, alongside the pandemic, have meant that the Welsh steel industry has been hit hard, Airbus has lost 1,400 jobs, Grenadier cars will be produced in France instead of Wales, and even Brains brewery is up for sale. Will the Secretary of State now press the Chancellor for a sector-specific manufacturing strategy, in the knowledge that only UK Governments can borrow in the long term at low interest rates to secure long-term pre-pandemic production levels after the vaccine is deployed and after the deal is agreed?

The Chancellor’s contributions to the companies that the hon. Gentleman mentioned, as well as to Celsa, which I mentioned in my answer, have been second to none. We have had a very good, robust and thorough exchange with all the businesses to which the hon. Gentleman referred. I could not agree with him more that part of the covid recovery programme is there to ensure not only that we get through the next few months but that there are sustainable futures for all those industries, particularly steel. I hope the hon. Gentleman recognises the fact that we were quick off the blocks to rescue Celsa—and 600 to 800 jobs—in that process right at the beginning of the pandemic. That shows beyond reasonable doubt that we are absolutely committed to a steelmaking footprint in Wales.

The Shotton steel plant produces some of the finest quality steel products in the world. The Prime Minister has said that UK steel producers will be

“at the front of the queue”—[Official Report, 24 June 2020; Vol. 677, c. 1311.]

when it comes to future infrastructure projects, so will the Government now set targets on procurement? We need action rather than words—all we tend to get from this Government are warm words. Please, do not just blame Europe; can we have a proper answer?

I am not going to blame Europe—or anybody else, for that matter. I absolutely agree with the hon. Gentleman. We have been making big strides as far as procurement is concerned and, of course, after the end of the transition those strides will be even bigger—that does not constitute blame, of course. We have regular conversations in Government, including with the Welsh Government, about making sure that procurement not only offers value for money for taxpayers but taps into the wonderful supply chain that we have in the UK, of which he gave a very good example.