Tuesday, April 12, 2016

News: Commons debate on Tata Steel

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The fate of the UK steel industry has been given high priority by MPs with an urgent debate called for the House of Commons today.

The Secretary of State for Business, Sajid Javid MP, met with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Steel yesterday before making a statement to the house on Britain's steel industry.

After updating on Tata's plans to sell its UK operations, the deal announced yesterday for Tata's Scunthorpe works, and the efforts that the Government is making to support the industry, Javid concluded: "Britain's steel industry is a vital part of our economy. I want to secure its long-term future.

"I want to see "Made in Britain" stamped on steel used around the world. And I want to protect the jobs of the skilled men and women who work in the industry.

"The people of Port Talbot, of Scunthorpe, and of steelmaking communities across the UK deserve nothing less."

After the issue was debated by the MPs present, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Angela Eagle, secured an urgent debate on Tata and the steel industry for today. She said: "As Tata's announcement came during the recess, there has not yet been the chance to debate this important matter, not least because the Government refused to recall Parliament despite a petition signed by 152,000 people asking them to do so.

"While I welcomed the Secretary of State's statement earlier today, a fuller urgent debate is essential to allow Members not only to pose questions, but to scrutinise the Government's plans in more detail. Given the potentially devastating impact on steel-making communities up and down the country and the urgency of the situation, I beg your leave to seek this emergency debate."

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Following a review of the European operations of Tata Steel, the board concluded that it is exploring all options for portfolio restructuring including the potential sale of Tata Steel UK, in whole or in parts. Tata began the formal process yesterday with the despatch of the Summary Information Memorandum to potential investors. It has engaged the services of KPMG LLP as the advisers to the process while Slaughter and May will be the legal advisers to the proposed transaction.

The company said in a statement: "It is the intention of Tata Steel Europe to run a thorough, but expedited sale process by reaching out to a wide universe of potential investors globally. Tata Steel and its advisers are committed to work together and conduct the process in a transparent and time bound manner."

Sajid Javid said: "I have been in contact with potential buyers, making clear that the Government stand ready to help. That includes looking at the possibility of co-investing with a buyer on commercial terms, and we have appointed EY as financial advisers on behalf of the Government."

After attending the All Party Parliamentary Group on Steel, Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham said: "The Government must act now to save our steel industry. David Cameron said that he is committed to finding a "long-term sustainable future for British steel making" but the inaction of his Government speaks volumes about their attitude to thousands of steel workers in South Yorkshire.

"The Government's response has been too slow, even after they failed to take heed of MPs and trade unions about challenges faced by the steel manufacturing industry.

"The Government must take proactive measures to stabilise the industry and build long-term confidence with steel customers. They must tackle the Chinese manufacturers dumping steel in the UK by working with the European Commission to level the playing-field through tariffs and state aid. The Government must work with Tata to ensure enough time is given to find a responsible buyer. Fundamentally, this Government must be prepared to provide short-term state intervention to ensure the long-term future of our industry.

"Steel manufacturers in Rotherham and Stocksbridge employ hundreds of highly-skilled workers, producing speciality steel for our most elite industries. Warm words are simply not enough. This Government must act decisively to save our steel industry."

Images: Tata Steel

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