Joining fellow North East Labour MPs, Alex Cunningham today decried the Government’s efforts to secure the future of the British steel industry following the announcement by Tata Steel that it is in negotiations to sell its long products division.
During an Urgent Question tabled in the House of Commons by neighbouring Teesside MP Iain Wright, the Member for Stockton North highlighted the thousands of jobs across Stockton and the Tees Valley that are being put in jeopardy and asked the Minister for Business and Enterprise what assurance he could give to workers that the Government will act to protect their jobs by not allowing another international company to relocate Teesside jobs elsewhere.
While the steel industry underpins the UK’s competitiveness across a range of markets, the Minister was unable to offer a constructive response or to provide any such reassurance.
Concerns had earlier been raised that one proposed buyer for the long products division, which includes Tata’s Teesside site, has a track record of “asset stripping” after concentrating their interests in ailing and troubled companies overseas to profit from selling any remaining possessions.
Following the Urgent Question, Alex said:
“Despite referring to support for the industry, the Minister has today demonstrated that the Government’s response amounts to little more than throwing in the towel and giving up the fight to protect skilled jobs on Teesside.
“There are upwards of a thousand employees who could feel the impact of this decision, either directly or through local supply chains. Yet the Minister had the audacity to stand in front of us today and insist that the future for the UK steel industry remains bright.
“This highlights perfectly how astonishingly out of touch the Conservative-led Government is. Not only are they failing in the fight to keep important jobs in our area, but they are also unable to say how they will act to protect an entire industry that is central to the UK’s economy.”