Teresa May’s new secretary of state for business, Greg Clark MP, visited Port Talbot’s steelworks today.
The visit has been taken as a sign that Mr Clark will be keen to continue the commitments of his predecessor, Sajid Javid, who had made a statement on 8 July that: “the government remains committed to doing all it can and that our package of commercial support still stands. We will continue to work closely with Tata to find a long-term solution for sustainable blast furnace steel manufacturing in Port Talbot.”
A Tata Steel spokesman said: “We were pleased to welcome the new Secretary of State to the Port Talbot steelworks to see first-hand world-class steelmaking as it happens. The visit follows Monday’s welcome comments from the Prime Minister that helping the steel industry secure a long-term viable future remains a top priority for her Government. We look forward to working urgently with the new Secretary of State, alongside other stakeholders, to develop the best outcome for our UK business and its employees, as well as others including members of the British Steel Pension Scheme.”
Mr Clark has yet to set out his intentions for the steel industry.
Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock said he had contacted Mr Clark over the weekend to discuss the importance of steelmaking to the future of the UK.
He said: “When he meets the workforce in Port Talbot, the Secretary of State will meet some of the most hard working and talented men and women in the country, and they will leave him in no doubt about the challenges and opportunities facing the industry.
“I made it clear to him that the industry cannot survive if the status quo continues. We need urgent action to keep the British Steel Pension Scheme out of the Pension Protection Fund, alongside action on energy prices procurement, business rates and the illegal dumping of Chinese steel.
“I welcomed the fact that the government have finally recognised the need for an industrial strategy, and indeed that this is now an integral part of the Secretary of State’s job title. This is indeed a step-change from where we were just a few months ago with a Secretary of State who would not even allow the term ‘industrial strategy’ to pass his lips.”