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Support for the Steel Industry: Covid-19

Volume 680: debated on Wednesday 16 September 2020

What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on support for the steel industry in Wales during the covid-19 outbreak. (905967)

The UK Government share the steel industry’s ambitions for a sustainable future in Wales. That is why the Business Secretary, the Chancellor and I worked to reach an agreement with Celsa that saved hundreds of jobs in Wales. I have frequent discussions with Cabinet colleagues about supporting the Welsh steel industry, especially in dealing with the impact of covid-19.

In the debate led by my hon. Friend the Member for Newport East (Jessica Morden) held in this House the other evening, we heard about how the Welsh steel sector has been so adversely affected by this economic crisis. The response from the Minister who replied was yet again, I am afraid, lots of warm words. When are we going to see more action, notwithstanding Celsa, to support this vital industry in Wales to save jobs and the economy?

I would like to think that warm words are better than cold words, but actions speak louder than words, at whatever temperature they come. The fact is that the UK Government absolutely recognise the importance of the sector. That is why we did the deal with Celsa and saved 800 jobs there, and that sends a message to other steel producers in Wales that we mean business. We are not just talking about the survival of the industry during covid; we are talking about having a significant steel manufacturing presence in Wales in five years, 10 years and 15 years. That is why we have continued these discussions. The Celsa deal ought to be a source of encouragement for everyone involved that actually, when it comes to it, we do mean business.