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Steel Industry

Volume 622: debated on Wednesday 8 March 2017

5. What recent discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on the future of the steel industry in Wales. (909075)

I recently met the unions. Following the positive outcome of the recent ballot, it is now vital that all parties work together to deliver the agreed proposals. We will continue to engage with the sector, as well as with the unions, the devolved nations and other partners, as we seek to find a long-term viable solution for the industry.

The International Trade Secretary is said to have stated that the Government should ignore those who argue for protection. Will the Welsh Secretary agree to argue for a proper trade defence mechanism for steel, if that is what is required?

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will look to this Government’s positive record, in spite of the scaremongering of many Opposition Members. There are already 41 trade defence measures in place and the outcomes speak for themselves. Rebar coming into the European Union has reduced by 99%, as has wire rod—the statistics speak for themselves. This Government are determined to take the right action to support not only free trade but Welsh and UK businesses and industry.

Will my right hon. Friend update the House on what action has been taken to ensure that Welsh steel is used in British procurements across the UK?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to suggest that significant steps have been taken since 12 months ago when the crisis broke. Energy-intensive industry support has meant that £134 million has now been paid to the steel sector, and I have already mentioned the fact that 41 trade defence measures are in place. We have also introduced flexibility over EU emissions regulations. We are determined to ensure that everything will be done to make the steel industry sustainable over the longer term.

There has been much discussion in the past week about the automotive industry, particularly about Ford in Bridgend and the acquisition of Vauxhall by PSA, which are of major importance in south Wales and north Wales respectively. The presence of a domestic steel industry is key to our automotive industry, so will the Minister tell us what discussions he has had with his Cabinet colleagues about the automotive and steel industries and what assurances he can give to both industries about the Government’s commitment to their sustainability?

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and I are in regular communication, not only about steel but about the automotive sector. Although Ellesmere Port is not in Wales, there are clearly a significant number of Welsh employees in the workforce there. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will take encouragement from major investments such as that being made by Nissan in Sunderland. There are 100 automotive component industries based in Wales that will have access to those contracts—