The UK Government need to recognise the vital strategic importance of steel and support the industry. To date their record on this has been poor: while steel makers in France and Germany received funds from their respective governments to help them through the crisis in just ten days, steel makers in the UK are still waiting. I challenged the Minister in the House on whether he thinks that is acceptable:
Stephen Kinnock: I had the pleasure and privilege of sharing an office with Jo Cox for almost a year before she was so brutally taken from us, and our thoughts are with Brendan and the family today. On the issue of steel, the Secretary of State will be aware that the French and German steel industries received vital Government-backed loans within 10 days of their respective lockdowns starting. Here, months since the start of ours, the British steel industry has yet to receive a penny. Does the Secretary of State think that that is acceptable?
Alok Sharma: We are working with the steel sector, as the hon. Member will know, and we continue to work closely with it. Of course I absolutely remain committed to supporting a sustainable UK steel sector. We have increased the amount of borrowing that can take place under the larger CBIL scheme but, as I said to the right hon. Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband) in answer to an earlier question, when individual companies approach us, we will of course enter into direct discussions with them.