Ministers were urged to buy from Brits – but insisted there are no UK factories producing the necessary metal
Image: Unknown Internet)
Britain’s dependence on foreign steel for nuclear submarines and Royal Navy warships is “appalling,” they told peers today.
A government minister said the specialized metal needed to make Trident Dreadnought submarines and Type 31 light frigates could not be supplied from the UK.
But industry leaders and unions have repeatedly said that if they are given sufficient notice and sufficient orders, they will be able to manufacture the necessary products.
Speaking to the Lords, Conservative leader Viscount Younger said: “It would be great if British ships could be made from British steel.
“However, the steel required for the particular ships that are being built – both surface ships and submarines – is highly specialized.”
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Shadow Defense Minister Lord Coaker blasted: “Isn’t it a dreadful state of affairs that with the government spending billions of pounds to bolster our naval power, we have to go to the foreign for much of our steel?
“Rather than describing the problem, how are we going to stimulate the British shipbuilding industry to ensure that British warships are built with British steel?
Former naval chief Admiral Lord West, who sparked today’s debate, said importing metal for warships robs the UK of “sovereign capability”.
The ex-First Sea Lord added: “It takes sovereign ability to build ships and part of that is the steel that is used to build them.”
Campaigners urged the government to support UK industry.
UK Steel Managing Director Gareth Stace said: “Steel is absolutely fundamental to the UK’s ability to function as a modern industrial economy.
Edward Moss Photography)
‘Targeted public procurement to support the UK steel industry – whether in shipbuilding or infrastructure – not only supports the steel industry and the thousands of jobs it provides, but builds national resilience, improves our sovereign capacity and encourage investment in UK manufacturing supply chains. “
Shipbuilding and Engineering Confederation General Secretary Ian Waddell warned: ‘Steel and shipbuilding are strategically important industries for the UK and our shipbuilding program should ensuring that British ships are built in British shipyards using British steel.
“It is beyond belief that the government minister said that we no longer have the capacity to produce the steel used for submarine hulls when we could do so just a few years ago.”
Courtesy of CSEU)
The GMB union said years of cuts to Britain’s shipbuilding and steel industries “have created a vicious cycle and vital jobs and skills are being lost”.
National Officer Ross Murdoch added: “There is a real opportunity here to secure investment in our steel industry, including in grades of steel that are currently manufactured overseas.
“The security of our essential supply chains is a matter of national defense.”
Alasdair McDiarmid, COO of the Community Steelworkers Union, said: “A commitment to buy British steel is an investment in Britain.
“Contracts like those in the Dreadnought and Type 31 programs should not be awarded solely on the basis of cost, but should properly take into account the social and environmental benefits of local procurement.
“Buying British steel supports thousands of jobs, benefits our economy, adds value to the taxpayer and is better for the environment.”
The Mirror has been campaigning for Save Our Steel since the industry was hit by factory closures and thousands of job losses in 2015.