Ministers to discuss steel crisis but no recall of Parliament

UK steel industry absolutely vital for the country said Minister Sajid Javid
UK steel industry absolutely vital for the country said Minister Sajid Javid

The Government has been criticised for refusing to recall Parliament to discuss the steel crisis amid fears that thousands of jobs could be axed.

Ministers have also signalled opposition to nationalising the industry while efforts are made to find a buyer for Tata Steel plants.

The Indian firm shocked unions by deciding to sell its loss making UK business, threatening huge job losses.

The Government turned down calls from the Labour Party to recall Parliament but announced that the Prime Minister will chair a meeting of ministers on Thursday morning in Downing Street.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid cut short a business trip to Australia and spoke to the chairman of Tata Group.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also cut short a holiday and travelled to Port Talbot, site of the country’s biggest steel plant.

He wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to hold a special session of Parliament.

The Welsh Assembly is being recalled next week to debate the future of the industry.

A spokesman for 10 Downing Street said: “Ministers will continue to hold briefings to update representatives of other parties on the situation but we have no plans to recall Parliament. Our focus is on finding a long-term sustainable future for steel making at Port Talbot and across the UK.”

Mr Javid said the UK steel industry was “absolutely vital for the country”, adding: “I’m deeply concerned about the situation. I think it’s absolutely clear that the UK steel industry is absolutely vital for the country and we will look at all viable options to keep steel making continuing in Port Talbot.

“We are also very much alive to the human cost and we want to make sure no worker is left behind so where workers are affected that we are doing everything we possibly can to help them and their families.”

But he said he did not think nationalisation was “the solution” to the crisis.

“At this stage, given the announcement from Tata has just come out, it’s important I think we talk to them properly and understand the exact situation and we look at all viable options,” he said.

“I don’t think nationalisation is going to be the solution because I think everyone would want a long-term viable solution.

“And if you look around Europe and elsewhere I think nationalisation is rarely the answer, particularly if you take into account the big challenges the industry faces.”