Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for Economy
Members will have shared the deep sense of concern at the news last week regarding TATA Steel and the threat to its future at Port Talbot.
Welsh Government has over a number of months been actively engaging with TATA, UK Government and trades unions on the Company’s plans to transition to a low carbon future. In May, the First Minister and I met with TV Narendran, CEO, MD of Tata Steel Ltd and Dr Henrik Adam, Chair of Tata Steel UK to discuss the challenges faced by the steel sector and the pressing need for financial assistance to enable the transition to low carbon steelmaking to take place.
On two occasions I have met with the Secretary of State for BEIS to press the case for urgent action to bring about a solution that involves a coherent package from both the Welsh and UK Government. I also met with the previous Secretary of State for Wales to reinforce these points. Given the pivotal role HM Treasury will play in any financial support, the Minister for Finance and Local Government met recently with the Chief Secretary, HM Treasury to request Treasury engagement on this issue.
The First Minister also discussed the matter with the then Secretary of State for DLUHC earlier this month in order to seek agreement on practical measures to accelerate progress on the matter.
Following last Thursday’s announcement, the Welsh Government issued further correspondence to the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State BEIS to emphasise that further delays risk increasing costs and greater anxiety for the workforce and local community. I will be raising these issues when I meet with the new Secretary of State for Wales.
In the days following the announcement, my officials met with the company, UK government and trades unions in order to better understand the latest picture. Our focus is to explore all avenues to secure a successful, low carbon future for Welsh steel. This goal is entirely possible, but it requires action and grip from the UK Government. The detailed work required in the coming weeks cannot all be deferred until a new Prime Minister is in place and we expect progress to be made in the intervening period. Steelmaking is of fundamental importance to both the Welsh and UK economy and the Welsh Government will continue to stand up for our steel industry and the dedicated and skilled workforce it employs.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.