Debates between Lord Harries of Pentregarth and Baroness Swinburne during the 2019 Parliament

Tata Steel: Port Talbot

Debate between Lord Harries of Pentregarth and Baroness Swinburne
Wednesday 7th February 2024

(4 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth
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To ask His Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to safeguard jobs at Tata Steel in Port Talbot, and to encourage alternative forms of employment in the area.

Baroness Swinburne Portrait Baroness Swinburne (Con)
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My Lords, Tata informed the UK Government last year that it intends to close the steelworks and withdraw from the UK, putting 8,000 jobs at risk. The current plan put forward by Tata, which is subject to consultation, will see the Government investing £500 million to secure the future of steelmaking in Port Talbot, protecting 5,000 steel jobs in the UK and thousands more in the supply chain, while putting UK steelmaking on a more green and sustainable footing.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB)
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I thank the Minister for her reply. As she will be aware, job losses on this scale—some 2,000 at Port Talbot—will have a totally devastating effect on the community. Lord Tebbit said about the closure of the mines in the 1980s that, however necessary it was, he regretted the destruction of those communities and thought that in retrospect the decisions had been taken too quickly and not enough had been done. We can only hope that the Government do not have similar regrets about what is happening at Tata. First, what pressure are the Government putting on Tata Steel to slow down the phasing out of the blast furnaces? Secondly, would the Government consider setting up a task force, which would work very closely with the Welsh Government, employers’ organisations and members of the local community, to see what alternative forms of employment there might be, given that there are bound to be some job losses?

Baroness Swinburne Portrait Baroness Swinburne (Con)
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I thank the noble and right reverend Lord for that question. It is true we recognise that this is a devastating blow for the community, which is why we have already set up the Tata Steel/Port Talbot Transition Board. It is not called a task force but it will, in effect, act in that way. It is set up to

“protect and grow the economic environment and to support and mitigate the impact on those workers, businesses and communities … directly affected by”

this Tata Steel announcement. The reality is that that board is already up and running. It has support, being not just chaired by the Secretary of State for Wales but having representatives of the Welsh Government on it. It also has on it the local MP and various members from Tata and the local community, and business experts. So it is already set up and has a £100 million fund to do this work, and it will be tasked with making sure that alternative employment is found for all those who need it.