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Steel Council

Volume 618: debated on Tuesday 13 December 2016

The Steel Council will next meet in the new year. I will also meet senior steel industry chief executives and the trade union steel committee next month.

I am sure the Secretary of State will join me in congratulating all those involved in the Save our Steel campaign—especially the Community, GMB and Unite trade unions—on their vital contribution to the recent announcement on Port Talbot and other steel sectors across the UK. I am sure that he agrees that it is trade unionism at its best. Thousands of steelworkers and their families can look forward to a more certain 2017, but one of their real concerns remains their pensions. What will he do to bring forward better plans to ensure that steelworkers’ pensions, as well as their jobs, are protected?

I certainly join the hon. Gentleman in welcoming and congratulating the workforce, trade unions and the employers on their very constructive set of discussions. It is important that the membership is consulted, but this is a positive step forward and he is right that this will provide greater comfort to employees this winter. The hon. Gentleman will know that it is right and proper for the independent Pensions Regulator, rather than the Government, to approve and be content with pensions arrangements. It would be wrong for the Government to intervene in that.

22. One of the best ways to support the British steel industry is for the Government to invest in infrastructure. Will my right hon. Friend join me in praising the work of Severfield Steel, based in Lostock in my constituency, which is building the world’s first “squashed tennis racket style” railway bridge as part of the Ordsall Chord in Manchester? (907840)

I will indeed congratulate Severfield Steel, which is a very successful company, not only on the Ordsall Chord but on winning a global award in recent weeks. It was also responsible for construction of the Olympic stadium, the Shard, and Birmingham New Street station. Many of the buildings that we admire and have in our minds are constructed with British steel by British companies.

While we have recently had some really good news for the steel industry, giving steel workers and their families the stability they need for now, the fact that steel was not mentioned in the autumn statement gives cause for concern. Furthermore, the UK Government’s leading of a group of countries that are blocking the EU reform of anti-dumping trade defence instruments is another serious issue for the industry. Will the Secretary of State commit to including the steel industry in the future industrial strategy, and detail the steps that the Government will take to support this vital foundation industry?

Of course steel is incredibly important, and it is important that it should have a bright future—we all want to see that. One thing I have been doing with the Minister for Climate Change and Industry, working closely with the steel industry on both the employer and trade union side, is to fund and bring together a strategic review, and the whole industry is coming together to work on it. That is expressly designed to inform our industrial strategy, so that we can look forward with confidence to a very successful steel industry.