Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to meet with Scunthorpe MP Holly Mumby-Croft to discuss what needs to be done to further protect the steel industry.
The chair of the industry’s all-party parliamentary group revealed the commitment as she spoke during the opposition day debate called amid mounting pressure on recommendations from the Trade Remedies Authority.
He advised International Trade Secretary Liz Truss to drop nine category protections – described as a hammer blow to the industry body and opposition MPs.
In her speech via video link in the House of Commons, Ms Mumby-Croft said, “Decisions that affect the lives and livelihoods of our constituents cannot be made in this way. We now need new proactive solutions to support the steel industry. We need to consider whether a reform of the powers of the Secretary of Commerce is needed to allow safeguards assessments to be carried out, in part by ministers, who have an understanding of the big picture, who are in a position to make a decision. about compromises and are responsible for their decision-making.
“The Prime Minister has agreed to meet with me, and it will be a welcome discussion. I urge the government to explore how we can make legislative changes consistent with the World Trade Organization to allow the Secretary of Commerce to regain control and consider whether it is legally possible to extend our existing safeguards.
“It is clear to me that when the EU is on the verge of retaining all of its 19 steel protection measures and we only need to retain 10, it risks putting us at a disadvantage.”
Ms Mumby-Croft did not vote against the opposition motion, with the blockade attempt losing 355 to 271, while placing a strong emphasis on improving protections and powers.
Stating that she understood the Secretary of State’s hands were “somewhat tied,” and adding that her problem was not with her party, she said: “I was born in Scunthorpe, and I was there. in 2018 and 2019 when the steel mills were at risk. I saw first-hand the efforts and the funding that the Conservative government has put in place to support jobs.
“There is a very clear request from the government to help the steel industry again, I believe this government’s instinct is to support it. No one can go a single day without steel, this is a special case, it is a foundational industry, it affects my constituents and I will work with MPs across the house to fight for the interests of the steelworkers in Scunthorpe.
The debate aimed to open the door to new legislation, expanding existing safeguards and taking into account the time needed to make changes.
International Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena has warned that any extension could lead to a legal challenge, with the warning to “throw out the baby with the bathwater” and lose all protection.
Strong calls have been made to ensure that UK steel is used in all national infrastructure projects, with the importance of green steel underlined and a halt to cheap carbon-intensive imports.
In a statement after the vote, Ms Mumby Croft said: “This is a complicated issue, involving delicate legislation and commitments to the World Trade Organization and many colleagues have rightly pointed out that one misstep could lead to setbacks and lawsuits.
“Although I share much of the sentiment of the opposition, they have not presented any concrete solution or proposal to resolve this urgent problem. I know that the team of the Secretary of Commerce is currently working to find a solution to the issue. as we speak. I understand the need to be pragmatic in my approach – indeed, as I mentioned last week, I will continue to work with the government on a wide range of policies aimed at providing a better competitive environment. for UK Steelworks.
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“In this spirit of working with all my colleagues to find the best solution for our steel mills, I have made the decision not to vote against the opposition motion, as part of my commitment to work with all parties to the name of our steelworks.
“I am happy that following my interventions today, I was able to get a meeting with the Prime Minister to speak to him directly. As a representative of Scunthorpe, I know our steelworkers will want me to try all options and work with all sides to ensure what’s best for Scunthorpe. “