Lib Dems call for Welsh Assembly to be reconvened over Port Talbot steel decision

Peter Black, Welsh Liberal Democrat Finance Minister, has e-mailed First Minister Carwyn Jones calling on him to ask the Presiding Officer to reconvene the Assembly over the announcement that Tata Steel is to sell its UK interests including the plant at Port Talbot. 5,500 jobs are at risk in Wales.

The Assembly’s Standing Order 12.3 states:

If no plenary meeting is timetabled for a particular date or time, the Presiding Officer may, at the request of the First Minister, summon the Assembly to consider a matter of urgent public importance.

Peter Black AM said late last night before Tata confirmed their plans:

If true, these reports are truly devastating and our thoughts go out to Tata employees and their families.

This is clearly a matter of urgent public importance and therefore it is inconceivable that the Assembly doesn’t reconvene.

Ministers in both governments need to act fast. Simply holding up their hands and saying they are out of ideas is simply not good enough.

For years the Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for business rates to be reduced to support the steel industry, yet the Labour Government has sat on its hands offering nothing.  Likewise, inaction from the Tory Government has been utterly unforgivable.  Too much time has already been wasted and we need to see positive action now from both governments as well as further action to attract new investment to Port Talbot such as the creation of an urban development company.

In a tweet, Welsh leader Kirsty Williams echoed Peter Black’s call:

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  • “Welsh Liberal Democrat Finance Minister”

    Whatever that may mean.

  • Peter’s absolutely right – frankly, if the Assembly doesn’t meet with urgency and come up with at least a stance, its purpose will be starkly in question.
    I hope that the LD AMs are all returned safely in May, they are needed sorely. The institution as a whole though needs a stiff sharp shake-up!

  • Paul Murray 31st Mar '16 - 2:02pm

    @John Marriott – I’m not sure it really does play into a BREXIT script. This is an area in which I have no expertise so please correct any misunderstandings in what I say.

    Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes in The Telegraph that the tariff in the USA on Chinese cold-rolled steel is 267% but in the EU it is only 13%.

    Evans-Pritchard says that this is because the British government is vetoing any increase in the tariffs (much to the annoyance of the French and Germans) because Osborne agreed something of this sort as a quid pro quo for the Chinese taking on a large part of the Hinkley Point nuclear power costs. He quotes an “unnamed official” in Brussels who says: “The British are sacrificing an entire European industry to say thank you to China for signing up to the nuclear power project at Hinkley Point, and pretending it is about free trade”

    The entire article is well worth reading:

  • During any talks it will become apparent that energy costs were a major factor. That means reducing the green burden on heavy industry. Can Liberals handle that hot potato?

  • “Can Liberals handle that hot potato?”

    The only way to find a workable solution is to reconvene and talk about it.

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