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British Steel Production

Volume 691: debated on Tuesday 23 March 2021

I thank the hon. Lady for meeting me on 10 March to discuss this vital issue. It is of course a commercially sensitive matter that the Government are monitoring extremely closely.

I thank the Secretary of State for that response, but more than 5,000 workers at Liberty Steel, including 900 in Rotherham, are facing an uncertain future following the collapse of Greensill Capital. Will the Secretary of State now commit, as other Governments in Europe have done, to step in, if necessary, to safeguard this vital strategic industry?

The hon. Lady will know that in my meetings with management and relevant union leaders, I have always stressed that the management plans need to be worked through. We are monitoring the situation extremely closely. The hon. Lady will know that I have a direct interest in the future of Liberty Steel.

Does the Secretary of State accept that, as well as supporting tens of thousands of decent jobs, UK steelmaking capacity is of key strategic importance to our future competitiveness and resilience? If he does, is he as concerned as we are about the future of Liberty Steel, and will he ensure that the Government are working now on a plan B with all options on the table, including public ownership, should the firm fail to secure finance? Or is he ideologically opposed to this, preferring the UK Government either to step aside or to spend huge sums to prop up businesses at risk only to sell them off cheap overseas?

The hon. Lady will know that we have a repeated and often stated commitment to decarbonisation in our industry. It was only last week that we published, under the leadership of my right hon. Friend the Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, the industrial decarbonisation strategy. She will also appreciate that the steel industry is a vital part of that decarbonisation strategy.