MP: ‘Steel is way forward’

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.

A GOVERNMENT department overseeing business and enterprise says it wants to see the North-East industrial base flourish.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills responded after town MP Iain Wright called on Secretary of the Department Vince Cable to help UK steelmaking.

Mr Wright featured in yesterday’s Hartlepool Mail saying the Government needs to re-think its industrial strategy to help re-vitalise steelmaking instead of importing it from outside the UK.

He addressed bosses from Tata Steel, which has sites and employs hundreds of people across the Tees Valley, including in Hartlepool, at a seminar. Today, a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesperson said: “As part of our industrial strategy we are working in partnership with businesses in a range of sectors to deliver sustainable economic growth across the UK.

“Advanced manufacturing is at the heart of our approach.

“The North-East is home to a significant industrial base that we want to see continue.

“Government is supporting this through schemes such as the Regional Growth Fund.

“Under the first three rounds over £300m has been allocated to projects in the North-East and projects and programmes worth £215m have bid to round four.”

But Labour MP Mr Wright, who is shadow minister for competitiveness and enterprise, said: “It’s interesting that in a statement about the steel industry, they don’t seem to mention steel – that’s largely the problem.

“In many respects I agree with the Government approach about Government strategy, thinking about sectors of the future in which Britain can play a leading role.

“These are the automotive, aerospace, oil and gas fabrication industries.

“But all these industries require steel.”

Mr Wright said this Government and any future Government must recognise steel as being essential in its own right and as the “foundation block of other parts of the economy”.

He said the option of importing steel from China is “not the right option for our economy”.

“We have got well-paid, highly-skilled jobs here on Teesside - the Government should be working together with industry to see how best industry can fulfull its potential,” added Mr Wright.