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Minister updates Commons on British Steel talks

22 May 2019

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The Business Secretary, Greg Clark, made a statement on British Steel as the UK's second-largest steel firm goes into administration.

Government Statement on British Steel

British Steel has been put into compulsory liquidation as talks with the Government to find a rescue deal ended without a resolution.

Addressing the Commons on Wednesday, the Business Secretary said his department would work closely with the Official Receiver and prospective new owners to achieve the best possible outcome. He said;

"This is a very worrying time for everyone associated with British Steel. Each one of British Steel's sites has a proud record of steelmaking excellence, and I am determined to see it continue. […] Today is a very big setback for these operations, but it is far from being the end and we will take every step possible to secure a successful future for these vital assets, both people and plant.."

The Shadow Business Secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey responded, saying;

"The message from Government today must be that British Steel is one of the linchpins of our industrial strategy and to that end it will move heaven and earth to ensure business, as usual, continues."

Background Information and previous debate

The Government made a one-off payment to British Steel earlier this month, to enable the company to pay its EU Carbon Bill as Brexit uncertainty prevented it from participating the in the carbon credit scheme. British Steel is the second largest steel manufacturer in the UK, with 5000 direct employees and as many as 20,000 jobs connected to its supply chain.

On Tuesday 21 May 2019, Gill Furniss used an urgent question to ask the Government to make a statement following media reports that British Steel wass on the verge of administration.

Following the Government's previous statement on 1 May 2019, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Andrew Stephenson, said;

"The speculation regarding the future of British Steel will no doubt be creating uncertainty for those employed by the company. As shown through the ETS agreement, the Government has been willing to act. We have been in ongoing discussions with the company and […] subject to strict legal bounds, the Government will leave no stone unturned in its support for the steel industry."

Responding for the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Gill Furniss, blamed the Government for not doing more to make the UK Steel industry competitive and said;

"The steel sector is facing a myriad of issues from values of sterling and the uncertainty around future trading with the EU through to US trade tariffs. The Government could have taken such steps as greater procurement of UK steel; agreeing a sector deal as the industry was requesting and taking action on energy prices."

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