SNP STRIKES BACK AT PENTLAND AND DEFENDS RECORD ON STEEL

13th January 2016

Motherwell and Wishaw MP, Marion Fellows, and Central Scotland List MSP, Clare Adamson, have questioned the comments of John Pentland MSP that he made on the work of the Scottish Government to save the constituency’s steelworks.

Mr Pentland commented last week that the Scottish Government’s £195,000 support grant to save a number of key staff at Lanarkshire’s steelworks was a “token gesture”.

Mrs Fellows said:

“It is a ridiculous claim from Mr Pentland that the Scottish Government are doing nothing to save the steelworks in Lanarkshire.

Within days of the announcement that the steelworks would be closing, the Scottish Government set up the Steel Task Force which would urgently seek a buyer for the plants. Both Clare Adamson MSP and I sit on the task force.

I would also remind Mr Pentland that he too has a seat on the task force – emphasising the SNP’s cross-party approach to what should not be a partisan issue.

Greybull Capital are currently in talks with Tata Steel to possibly purchase the plants. Although nothing is certain, the Task Force’s hard work to find a buyer may finally come to fruition.

The latest £195,000 support grant will keep a number of key staff at the plants. If Mr Pentland were to ask the staff who will still be receiving an income as a result of the grant, they certainly would not call it a token gesture.

In Westminster, I have urged the Prime Minister to implement the Energy Intensive Industry compensation scheme as soon as possible and not in 2017, in order to relieve the costs to the steel industry of extortionate energy prices. I have also questioned the Secretary of State for Business on the UK Government’s long term strategy for steel; met with the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, and requested to meet with the Prime Minister. And only last week I pressured Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd MP, on the UK Government’s long term strategy for steel.

While using steel as a political football, Mr Pentland has only offered bluster and no alternatives to saving our steelworks other than nationalisation – which the Scottish Parliament does not even have the powers to do. But unless the UK Government addresses high energy prices and the dumping of cheaper, Chinese steel in the UK, then there will be no future for steel in Scotland or in the UK.

Let me assure constituents that the SNP are fully committed to finding a buyer for our iconic Lanarkshire steelworks.”

Commenting on the response from the SNP Government, Clare Adamson MSP said:

“The SNP Government have responded with speed and depth to the crises facing the steel industry. Not only did the Scottish Government immediately set up a Task Force but the recent commitment of £195,000 to secure the key staff, to ensure the plants can reopen quickly, as and when production resumes, is unprecedented.

The Scottish Government has left no stone unturned in their efforts to secure the plants’ future. It is critical for any new commercial operator intending on restarting production at Dalzell and Clydebridge to be able to get the mothballed plants quickly up and running again after a period of inactivity. In working with the existing management and trade unions the Scottish Government’s commitment of £195,000 secures the nucleus of a manufacturing team.

It is disappointing that these strenuous efforts and unprecedented support have not been recognised by all parties involved. I would hope that all members of the Task Force would remain focussed on the key objective of finding an alternative operator for Dalzell and Clydebridge.

These are very challenging circumstances for all involved, not least the workers at the plants who need to know that the people tasked with securing their future are pulling together to offer positive advice and suggestions in reaching a successful outcome.”

Commenting on the Scottish Government’s latest support grant, steelworker Joe Wemyss said:

“My belief is that this will try and help retain key plant personnel i.e. the mill rollers. These are the people Dalzell cannot afford to lose or it would be hard to hit the ground running if a buyer for the plant can be found.

There is a buyer who has shown a lot of interest. What I have heard is that if they buy Dalzell and Clydebridge they do not want a ghost plant with no workers. It is therefore essential that this buyer can take the plant over as soon as possible.

Without the Scottish Government’s intervention, we would be closed with no hope of reopening. The UK Government have washed their hands of us and offered no help whatsoever which is really disappointing, but not unexpected.”