MP seeks assurances from minister for Hartlepool steel site amid sell off and Brexit

Iain Wright speaking during the steel industry debate in Westminster Hall.

Iain Wright speaking during the steel industry debate in Westminster Hall.

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Hartlepool MP Iain Wright spoke of the need for clarity and investment in UK steel following Brexit during a debate in parliament.

Mr Wright sought guarantees from a government minister to provide confidence for steel customers and suppliers following the vote to leave the EU and amid plans of a Tata Steel sell off of the Hartlepool pipe mills which employ 500 people.

A sales process of this nature is never straightforward especially one where part of a larger group is being divested

Iain Wright

Tata confirmed last week that two of the pipe mills, in Brenda Road, will be put up for sale, along with the South Yorkshire-based Speciality Steels business.

Hartlepool’s 20-inch Tube Mill is not part of the deal.

During the debate, Mr Wright said: “In many respects this is a positive move. The Hartlepool pipe mills are a profitable business unit within Tata.

“It’s little wonder that several bidders have already shown an interest in buying Tata speciality steel business.

“However, there does remain uncertainty, a sales process of this nature is never straightforward especially one where part of a larger group is being divested.

“So what guarantees can the minister give in terms of ensuring that we can continue operations at the Hartlepool site to ensure that this sales process which may be lengthy, which may be complex, can be concluded successfully?”

He said such assurances from the Government were necessary to keep the orders coming in and the business to continue to trade during any sale.

Mr Wright also asked whether Hartlepool steelworkers would remain part of the Tata steel pension scheme adding: “It would be very helpful if the minister in this period of uncertainty could provide some guarantees or confidence to allow this sales process to be carried out in a successful manner.”

Post Brexit, the MP added businesses may choose to wait before deciding to invest in Britain because of the uncertainty adding: “If we are in a global race for economic progress, we cannot afford to pause for a quarter or two; we will be left behind and consequently our competitiveness will be eroded.”