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Future of Steelmaking

Volume 749: debated on Wednesday 8 May 2024

10. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the future of the steelmaking industry in Wales. [R] (902656)

11. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the future of the steelmaking industry in Wales. (902657)

I have regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues on a range of subjects, including steelmaking in Wales. The Government are investing £500 million to retain steelmaking at Port Talbot and other Tata sites including Llanwern and Shotton, protecting 5,000 jobs and thousands more in the supply chain while increasing our economic security. At the same time, the Government have put aside £80 million for the transition board to spend on supporting anyone who loses their job in Port Talbot or in the wider community.

Whether it be the transmission pylons and lines needed to upgrade our power grid as demanded by the Winser report, or the prospect of building steel-based offshore wind platforms, the Welsh steel industry can and should be central to our transition to a net zero nation. When historic investments in green steel are being made by European competitors, does the Secretary of State recognise that the Government’s lack of ambition for Britain has let thousands of skilled workers down?

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point about the importance of making sure there is a grid connection to enable an electric arc furnace to work properly. I have raised this issue with National Grid, and it has assured me that the grid connection can be made on time.

The hon. Gentleman makes a second reasonable point about the importance of being able to use steel produced in Port Talbot for floating offshore wind turbines. That is not the case at the moment because, as some of his Front Benchers seem to be unaware, the steel made in Port Talbot is coil, which is too thin to make those turbines. However, he will be pleased to know that there are discussions going on with one major investor to try to ensure that the steel produced from the arc furnace can be made in a way that could support floating offshore wind structures.

The sustainability of domestic automotive manufacturing is vital to the future prosperity of Luton’s local economy, so what discussions has the Secretary of State had with the UK’s automotive industry about the effect of losing our sovereign virgin steel production on their supply chain costs?

I have regular discussions with the automotive industry, and I have also had regular discussions with the steel industry across the United Kingdom. Some 90% of the grades that are currently produced by Port Talbot can be produced using an electric arc furnace, and there is work going on to ensure that the other 10% can be.

May I just remind the hon. Lady that we actually have a plan for Port Talbot? When Tata came to us, it was looking to close down Port Talbot and pull out of the United Kingdom, a move that would have cost 8,000 jobs and 12,500 in the wider supply chain. As a result of that, the UK Conservative Government stepped forward with half a billion pounds of investment to support an electric arc furnace, and a further £80 million to support retraining workers and infrastructure improvements in Port Talbot. We have had not one single penny from the Welsh Labour Government, who instead have decided today to prioritise spending £120 million on more Senedd Members. More Senedd Members or support for steelworkers—I know what my priority is.