Wednesday, March 30, 2016

News: No plans to recall Parliament

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A Number 10 spokesman said there are no plans to recall Parliament following the shock announcement from Tata Steel that has led to an even more uncertain future at its UK sites.


A week after a visit to meet steelworkers in Rotherham, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Labour leader, has written to the Prime Minister to demand the recall of Parliament to debate the industry after Tata Steel announced that it is exploring all options for portfolio restructuring including the potential sale of Tata Steel UK, in whole or in parts.

Corbyn said: "The news that Tata is preparing to pull out of steelmaking in Britain puts thousands of jobs across the country and a strategic UK-wide industry at risk. MPs must have the chance now to debate the future of steel and hold ministers to account for their failure to intervene.

"Steelworkers and their families will be desperately worried about the uncertainty. The Government is in disarray over what action to take. Ministers must act now to protect the steel industry, which is at the heart of manufacturing in Britain and vital to its future."

There have been calls for Government intervention to maintain steel production in Port Talbot and even nationalisation, after the board of the Indian-owned steelmaker said that it would not be able to support a plan to continue operating in South Wales.

A Number 10 spokesman said: "Ministers will continue to hold briefings to update representatives of other parties on the situation but we have no plans to recall Parliament. Our focus is on finding a long-term sustainable future for steel making at Port Talbot and across the UK."

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Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, said that he would be making a statement to the Welsh Assembley on the future of the steel industry in Wales on Monday afternoon. Earlier in the day the UK and Welsh Governments issued a joint statement saying: "This is a difficult time for workers in Port Talbot and across the UK. During the review process, we remain committed to working with Tata and the unions on a long term sustainable future for British steel making.

"Both the Welsh and UK governments are working tirelessly to look at all viable options to keep a strong British steel industry at the heart of our manufacturing base."

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, said that governments must match words with action and take all necessary steps to ensure there is a future for the steel industry in the UK by any means possible.

He said: "As well as short term emergency measures, in the longer term we need to see all major procurement projects, from HS2 to Hinckley Point, all using British Steel. Ministers can also do more by reforming business rates to exclude some of the penalties steel companies and others face if they invest in plant and machinery. Alongside this, the UK has one of the highest electricity costs for the energy intensive industries in Europe because of hindering domestic policy. We need to see a level playing field with our European competitors to ensure a positive future for the steel sector.

"Finally and, perhaps most importantly, it is vital the UK Government supports aggressive measures at EU level to prevent Chinese dumping."

Before the UK Government went on Easter recess, Prime Minister David Cameron backed plans for Port Talbot when questioned by Aberavon MP, Stephen Kinnock.

The PM said: "It is an extremely difficult market situation, with massive global overcapacity and the huge fall in steel prices, but there are areas where we have taken action already and we will continue to look at what more we can do: state aid compensation so that we can secure the energy costs; greater flexibility over EU emissions regulations. We have done a huge amount in terms of public procurement, which I think can make a big difference to our steel industries. We are doing all those things and more, and we are making sure that Tata and others understand how valuable we believe this industry is to the UK and that the Government, within the limits we have, want to be very supportive and very helpful."

Jeremy Corbyn MP attended a meeting with steelworkers and their families in Rotherham last week which was called by Wentworth and Dearne MP, John Healey.

Mr Healey, whose constituency includes Tata's Aldwarke plant, said: "He wanted to know what personal problems people were dealing with as they face the uncertainty over whether they have got a job or not; whether they have got a steel plant or not.

"They have had the stuffing knocked out of them over the last few years. It's been one blow after another and this shock overnight coming from the board in India is just one more."

Images: Tata Steel

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