Mr Redwood’s interventions during the debate on the UK Steel Industry, 29 February

John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): I agree with the hon. Lady; we need a streel industry and there needs to be cross-party working to try to find the way forward. What does she think the Government could do to try to get more steel orders? The main problem is that there just is not enough British steel being bought.

Ms Angela Eagle (Wallasey) (Lab): One of the first things we have to do is stop the tsunami of unfairly traded and dumped Chinese steel, which is preventing fair trade and competition in the market at the moment.

The Opposition have had to drag this Government kicking and screaming to the House on no fewer than 12 occasions since 2014 to try to force them to turn their warm, sympathetic words on steel, which we all recognise they use, into effective action. Today, here we are doing so once again. The Opposition motion calls on the Government to stop using the European Union as an excuse for their own inaction. It asks them to support a more effective response to the dumping of Chinese steel, which threatens to decimate UK steel production. It calls on the Government to take tougher action to secure a level playing field for our industry.

John Redwood: Will the Secretary of State tell us what he and his colleagues in Government can do to ensure that in big public sector procurement programmes in defence, railway engineering or construction, we get the maximum British content for the steel industry?

The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and President of the Board of Trade (Sajid Javid):
That is an excellent question, and that was the second ask from the industry. Let me address the first ask, and I will come right back to that point.

The first ask was for lower energy bills. We will shortly be paying compensation on renewable energy costs, and we are in the process of securing agreement to exempt energy-intensive industries from such costs. The second ask was for more British steel to be used in public building projects. We have issued updated procurement guidance to all Departments to make it clear that they can now take into account wider socioeconomic considerations, as well as cost, when making purchasing decisions. We are the first member of the European Union to be able to use those new rules. We have also mapped rough estimates of steel that could be used for major projects including High Speed 2, new nuclear and offshore wind. We have shared those estimates with industry and will continue to keep them updated.

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4 Comments

  1. Antisthenes
    Posted March 1, 2016 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    With considerable assistance from the EU the UK cannot make steel at a competitive price. It is not all the EU of course a lot has to do with us putting social justice before economic competence. We have done it many times before in the past the shipyards and the coal mines and others all closed because we believed being paid higher wages and given better working conditions than our competitors was the right thing to do. Well we pay the price for it. That is loss of industries, redundancies and disrupted communities. It does not matter though if we can re-employ people in businesses that give us the same or more return than the old ones.

    Eventually that is usually the case. We forget as this exchange demonstrates that it is the consumer not the producer that government is there to protect. For the sake of them steel should not be forced on consumers at a price they need not pay that is plainly ridiculous and unjust. Protectionism leads to higher prices and in the end shortages and in the end destroys even more jobs.

  2. ian
    Posted March 1, 2016 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Its not so much the energy bills which you can bring down by taking the 20 percent vat off and pay the fine at the EU but over weight in office staff and transport costs are why business fail like steel, Its like the NHS more office staff than all the other workers put together, you have office workers doing 36 hours aweek on the same pay as a j doctor doing 90 odd hours aweek and tec staff on the shop floor earn not much more than most office staff with better pensions, that why the NHS will always fail, you want full employment because your a politician which is a pipe dream.

    Steel should go till someone come along who know how to build a business like steel, automaton staff for the office and shop floor and transport, you can still employ staff but only a few that why you have to move away from taxing people because even if you have a job in the future it will not be able to pay them the money that you and they need for taxes and to live on.
    You need a new model, what work in the 20 century with not work in the future,

    Reply Domestic energy has VAT at 5%

  3. ian
    Posted March 2, 2016 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I see your trying to get yourself a tax break again, if it slip your mind the reason the tax take up was because of changes to the tax system in which civil servant and people working for government who were doing self assessment instead of paying tax in the normal way couple with high pay rises and lot of extra staff taken on at the top end like quangos and big pay rises in the boardrooms.

    As for 5 percent comment I say bound to go up.

  4. ian
    Posted March 2, 2016 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    you should look in to the deal wet & mad made with his goldman sacs man with china about steel, hinkley to start in dec no sign of it yet that is an till uk steel is shutdown and will be with massive mounts of steel on it way from china with US putting trade barriers now. you been sold out.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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