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Steel Update

Volume 608: debated on Monday 18 April 2016

On 11 April I provided an oral statement to the House regarding the UK steel industry and the steps that the Government are taking to support it.

We have secured assurances from Tata that it will be responsible sellers of its remaining UK steel operations and will allow reasonable time to find a buyer. My colleagues and I have already been in contact with potential buyers making it clear that the Government stand ready to help. We have also appointed EY to act as financial advisors on behalf of the Government. Commercial confidentiality means I cannot go into detail about ongoing discussions. However I will update the House as soon as it is appropriate.

On 11 April, Tata formally launched its sales process providing a summary information memorandum to interested parties. In the next stage of the process, Tata will release more detailed information to those parties that have expressed an interest and which have signed up to the relevant confidentiality provisions.

This is also understandably an uncertain time for Tata’s customers and suppliers. The biggest reassurance I can give is the public commitment we have made—that the Government are totally committed to supporting and facilitating the process of finding a buyer for the business, as evidenced today by the information we are providing for Tata’s sales document.

Many questions have been raised recently regarding compensation for energy intensive industries. We have paid out over £200 million to energy intensive industries since 2013 to compensate them for energy policy costs. Under our new scheme, launched earlier this year, covering compensation for the renewables obligation and small scale feed-in tariff costs, we have so far paid over £23 million to 12 companies, including Tata. We are continuing to rapidly work through applications and will be making further payments over the coming weeks. Our overall package of compensation and exemption will save the steel industry hundreds of millions of pounds over this Parliament.

We continue to make strong progress in Europe. The duties imposed on rebar in January are starting to have an effect. Imports of rebar in January 2016 were 99% down on January 2015.

This week the Government will again be at the forefront of efforts to tackle unfair trade practices. Today I will attend the OECD high level meeting on steel in Brussels, which will look to agree actions to tackle global excess capacity. This will be attended by non-OECD countries. It is an ideal opportunity to press China and other countries to take fast and effective action in this area.

On Thursday, the Minister of State for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise will speak at the European Steel Day conference in Brussels, organised by EUROFER (the European steel trade body), where she will continue to work with industry and European partners to deliver on the Government’s commitment to provide industry with all the support they can.

The Government are committed to doing all it can to ensure a sustainable future for the UK steel industry.