MPs to probe steel industry after company’s collapse

A committee of MPs is to launch an inquiry into the steel industry following the collapse of one of the biggest companies in the sector.

The move by the Business Committee follows the recent liquidation of British Steel and concerns about the impact of Brexit on the future of the steel industry.

As part of this inquiry, the committee expects to hold public evidence sessions with Greybull Capital, which owned British Steel, the trade union Community, Tata, Liberty, Celsa and UK Steel, as well as Business Secretary Greg Clark.

Rachel Reeves, who chairs the committee, said: “It is vital that the Government and Official Receiver do all they can to secure a viable future for British Steel.

“However, as a select committee we want to examine questions around the collapse of British Steel and the Government’s approach, as well as about Greybull Capital’s stewardship and its commitments to investing in its future.

“More broadly, we want to examine the serious challenges facing the future of the steel sector in the UK.

“Our recent Industrial Strategy report highlighted the Government’s failure to conclude a sector deal with the steel industry. Long-term industry concerns such as on energy costs and business rates have also gone largely unaddressed.

“There are also fears of the impact of a no-deal Brexit on the steel industry in the UK.

“Steel is a strategic industry. In this inquiry, we will also want to explore whether there is a case for additional responsibilities to be placed on the owners of national strategic assets.”

Steel crisis
Workers leave the steelworks plant in Scunthorpe (Danny Lawson/PA)

Unite’s assistant general secretary Steve Turner welcomed the inquiry, adding: “We need to look seriously at how a strategically important national industry has ended up in such a perilous, uncertain place, and then we need government to take the steps necessary to bring security to the sector.

“It is also right that Greybull’s role in the collapse of British Steel is thoroughly examined.

“That company has behaved deplorably. Its business model of piling debt onto the balance sheet while stripping cash and security from the business has plunged thousands of workers and their families into horrific uncertainty while they attempt to line their own pockets from a future sale.

“This sort of cowboy behaviour needs to be run out of our economy once and for all.”

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