On Monday night I voted in favour of an Opposition Day Debate on the UK Steel Industry.
The motion put forward by the Shadow Business, Innovation and Skills Secretary, Angela Eagle MP, called on the Government to support tougher EU sanctions on Chinese dumping of steel to ensure a level playing field within the steel market.
It also demanded the Government supported scrapping the lesser duty rule which prevents higher tariffs being imposed that reflect the actual margin of dumping and to examine the implications of granting China Market Economy Status for the EU’s ability to tackle unfair trade.
Moreover, we called on the Government to publish a full industrial strategy for the steel industry, which includes a procurement policy which commits to using British steel wherever possible for publicly-funded infrastructure projects and which supports industrial supply chains across the UK.
This Opposition Day Debate came about because the UK steel industry, which in 2014 employed 34,500 people, has seen over 5,000 jobs lost over the last twelve months due to the Government’s failure to support this vital industry.
Chinese dumping of steel onto the international market, combined with the UK Government’s refusal to act has hit the Welsh steel industry hard. The EU has been trying to implement reforms to help nations aid their steel industries. Initiatives like the Lesser Duty Rule, which wants to put in place protections for the EU against the action being taken by China.
During Defence Questions yesterday I asked the Minister for Defence Procurement why only 20% of the steel used in the new Royal Navy offshore patrol boats was British and 60% was Swedish. Mr Dunne was unable to provide an answer just confirming the statistics being true.
We have a Government who has sat idly by whilst our steel industry has been allowed to crumble. Other nations within the EU have used their laws and EU laws to help protect jobs and defend them from the worst of Chinese steel dumping.
On Monday night we voted to protect our vital steel industry. An industry that has provided jobs and security for generations in Wales. But the Government defeated the motion which would have called for action now, not the hollow words that we have been provided so far.
Rest assured, Labour will continue to work hard to push the Government into taking action to help a vital industry in need.