Belfast Telegraph

David Cameron blasted for refusing to recall Parliament over Tata Steel jobs crisis

By Alan Jones and Joanne Sweeney

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's plants.

The Indian conglomerate 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 would chair a meeting of ministers this morning in Downing Street.

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

A spokesman for Tata Steel confirmed that its Lisburn operation was not involved in the decision to sell its UK steel business.

The sale of the plant, which is part of the Long Products Europe business, is at an "advanced stage" with buyer Greybull Capital.

The spokesman added that the company remained "hopeful" the deal would be successfully completed in the near future.

While 14 people are employed in the Lisburn plant, about 4,700 people are employed at Long Products Europe and its distribution facilities.

Tata Steel UK Limited, an indirect subsidiary company of Tata Steel Europe, announced the sale in December 2015.

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."

Sajid Javid said the UK steel industry was "absolutely vital for the country." He added: "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 we are doing everything that we possibly can to help them and their families."

But the Business Secretary 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 that we talk to them properly and understand the exact situation and look at all options," he added.

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

"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."

The Community union said it was "extremely worrying" that Business Minister Anna Soubry stressed yesterday that the Government was looking at all options to retain steel, but had ruled out nationalisation within hours.

Belfast Telegraph

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