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Port Talbot steelworks could support UK defence industry – Welsh Secretary

31 Jan 2024 4 minute read
Welsh Secretary David TC Davies. Photo Jonathan Brady PA Images

Port Talbot’s steelworks could help to support the UK’s defence industry, the Welsh Secretary has said.

David TC Davies said “very little steel” produced at the South Wales plant is going into the defence industry, but the installation of an electric arc furnace would change this.

The UK Government has committed to investing £500 million in electric arc furnace technology at the site, but around 2,800 jobs are expected to be lost as a result of the transition.

Tata plans to invest £750 million in the furnace, alongside funding for a support package for the employees expected to be made redundant.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Davies said: “The Government have looked very carefully at this, there is very little steel being produced by Port Talbot going into the defence industry, but the defence industry is being supplied with steel from an electric arc furnace by Sheffield Forgemasters.

“And there is absolutely no reason why an electric arc furnace built at Port Talbot, using support from the UK Government, cannot help support our defence industry in years to come.”

National security

He was responding to Conservative MP Chris Clarkson (Heywood and Middleton), who said: “Steelmaking is essential to our national security, as is reaching net zero.

“The problem is the Welsh Labour Government can’t make its mind up which is more important. After trying to kill off the steel industry with their green measures, they now complain this Government isn’t doing enough to support it.

“Does the (Secretary of State) think that they do not really know their Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) from their Nalgo (National and Local Government Officers’ Association)?”

Elsewhere in the session, shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens described the job losses at Port Talbot as a “kick in the teeth for our proud” workers.

Ms Stevens said: “Tata workers I met last week know the virgin steel they make is vital to supporting our renewable energy aspirations, like offshore wind in the Celtic Sea.

“So the loss of 3,000 jobs is a kick in the teeth for our proud, skilled Welsh steel workers, it will devastate local economies and the sovereign steel-making capacity that would build the wind turbines we need.”

Welsh Office minister Fay Jones replied: “The investment from this UK Government has saved thousands of jobs across the United Kingdom, of course the transition board is now working with the individuals affected in Port Talbot and that is a proper and right thing to do.”

Failure

Ms Stevens said: “She boasts about the transition board but that only exists because of the Government’s failure to protect jobs and vital industries.

“But let me ask her this: each year Port Talbot provides enough virgin steel to deliver the UK’s 20230 wind targets by itself, so when her Government’s intervention shuts the blast furnaces early can she tell the House where that steel is going to come from?

“Will it be coming from India? And we will be surrendering our ability to create jobs, investment and cheaper bills here in Britain.”

Ms Jones replied: “Indications so far are that moving away from iron-making in the UK would not have a direct impact on national security.”

Labour MP for Ogmore Chris Elmore said: “Last week in the steel debate, the Secretary of State said he understands, and I quote, ‘the devastation that people will feel in Port Talbot and in the whole community who face the job losses at the plant and beyond’.

“Why is it then that the Secretary of State, or indeed the Business Secretary, didn’t put in a red line over job losses while this work was done, especially with Tata this morning doubling down on those losses in the Welsh Affairs Select Committee? It is nothing short of a disgrace.”

Mr Davies replied: “As the honourable gentleman knows, Tata approached the UK Government and said they were intending to pull out of the United Kingdom.

“If Tata had pulled out completely from the United Kingdom, it would have immediately cost 8,000 jobs and many thousands more in the supply chain.

“The Government therefore acted to take the only deal which was available, which was to build the electric arc furnace and save thousands of jobs.”


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Gareth
Gareth
21 days ago

Typical Tory tactic, blame our Gov, when the only people who can do anything, are the UK Treasury and the DTI, both controlled by the Tory gov in Westminster. Playing on the fact that people are quite unaware of how little power our Gov holds or can wield in situations like this.

Jeff
Jeff
21 days ago

Now they have the government over a barrel.

this will flop during the next government? Planned idiocy?

Annibendod
Annibendod
21 days ago

How utterly useless are these Tories? Their economic strategy is exactly what is responsible for TATA having ownership of this key primary manufacturing site, responsible for the failure to invest in its modernisation and ultimately in allowing TATA to run it so badly that they are able to claim these losses. This has nothing to do with the “green agenda”. That is a pure dogwhistle … and I’ve seen the mutts barking away with their regurgitated comments on the Beeb and WoL. This is entirely about the Minfordesque policy of deindustrialisation and the focus on the holy cash cow that… Read more »

G Horton-Jones.
G Horton-Jones.
21 days ago

If Tata are losing so much money per day why are the English government so eager to hand over 500 million to an Indian company . Tata can pullout of any arrangements at any time quoting global trading conditions The steelworks are physically ours in Wales if Tata or the Tories disappear as they will at a future date possibly sooner than either think the steelworks will still be ours Let’s not forget that the 500 million is ours the people of Wales The future is ours to decide not that of a neighbouring country which has never had our… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
21 days ago

I understand that the owners of Ebbw Vale dismantled the steelworks before they pulled out? Prevented competition and removed high value essential components for use else where or sale. I would expect Tata to do the same here?

hdavies15
hdavies15
21 days ago

Best policy would be to say “ta ta” to TATA. Greedy globalist outfit doing a very transparent mugging job on UK Gov and anyone else dull enough to bend over backwards and get shafted by these crooks. Their “green” strategy is a pure softening up game pandering to the nutters who think that Wales and UK, and parts of EU can green the planet on their own while likes of USA, Russia, Brazil India and China all carry on either chugging out smoke or open cast mining any kind of mineral that is of value in our present day array… Read more »

Why vote
Why vote
21 days ago

Government! Green lobby. Carbon lobby. gov green agenda. In this global trade era where any company from any country can buy any company for sale in the UK and run it with rules and regulations ftom outsde the remit of the uk government. TATA were given half a £ 500 million to make it carbon neutral. The plan they came up with was obvious. Did no one see this coming, excellent business practice by TATA, absolutely useless for wales. Find a UK minister with a backbone ask TATA how much and do a deal before the demolition crews start. Go… Read more »

Anthonywinston
Anthonywinston
20 days ago

Typical Tories. I asked this man pleaded and begged for his help as Welsh secretary. I’ve had mouth cancer and missing half my tongue. A surgeon in Swansea has agreed to reconstruct my tongue. Unfortunately his hands are tied because of catchment areas of wales so I will have to carry on in tremendous pain every day of my life. Asked Davies to step in and help. Sorry I can’t he said you don’t live in my area .what’s the use of him if he can’t even sort red tape out with Welsh government to prolong my life and allow… Read more »

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