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  1. National

Tata Steel warns of 'huge economic disaster' over pensions deficit

Credit: PA

Tata Steel has warned of a "huge economic and social disaster" if steps are not taken to solve Port Talbot's pension fund liability.

Bimlendra Jha, the firm's new chief executive, told MPs today that the South Wales plant's pension fund liability must be taken care of in order to find a buyer for the steel plant.

He said that there are solutions that would not involve public money.

The government has already said it looking at "separating" the old British Steel pension scheme, which has 130,000 members and is around £500 million in deficit, from Tata Steel.

If we don't solve it we are staring at some very bad consequences for the taxpayer ... We are staring at a huge economic and social disaster.

– Tata Steel CEO Bimlendra Jha
  1. National

Tata Steel: UK steel plants have 'structural disadvantages'

Port Talbot is one of the at-risk plants if a buyer cannot be found Credit: PA

The new CEO of Tata Steel UK has said that British steel plants have "structural disadvantages" that makes production unprofitable and has forced the company to put its assets up for sale.

Bimlendra Jha said that if energy prices were the same as in Germany for example, Tata Steel would be £40 million better off.

When you get headwinds such as a stronger currency, you only have to go over the Channel to buy products in an open market.

– TATA STEEL CEO BIMLENDRA JHA

He told a committee of MPs that the firm is "determined" to find a credible buyer, but said the government will probably have to do more to help secure a sale.

Jha, who oversaw the sale of Tata Steel's Scunthorpe works earlier this month, said the firm has not discussed closing Port Talbot steelworks, which employs around 750 workers.

He said there is no "dead drop" deadline for the sale of Tata Steel's steel assets, but stressed that is a "matter of urgency" for the company.

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Business Secretary to be questioned over steel crisis

The Business Secretary is to be questioned by MPs today over the crisis in the steel industry and the current efforts to save thousands of jobs.

Sajid Javid has already visited steel workers in Port Talbot. Credit: PA

Sajid Javid will appear before the Business Select Committee as the search continues to find a buyer for Tata Steel's UK assets.

Tata Chief Executive Bimlendra Jha, Gareth Stace of trade group UK Steel and Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of the Community union, will also appear before the Committee.

Other witnesses will include Marc Meyohas of Greybull Capital, which is buying Tata's plant at Scunthorpe.

Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of the Community union, will also appear before the Committee. Credit: PA

Prime Minister David Cameron visited the Tata Steel works in Port Talbot on Tuesday to assure workers, unions and bosses of the Government's commitment to support the future of steel-making at the under-threat plant. Mr Rickhuss said the Prime Minister had "looked proud steelworkers in the eye and promised to do all he could to protect their jobs", and said his union would "hold him at his word".

Welsh leaders go head-to-head in second live TV debate

The leaders of the six largest political parties in Wales will meet for a live TV debate this evening, as the build up to next week's Welsh Assembly elections continue.

The six leaders clashed last week on ITV Cymru Wales.

First Minister Carwyn Jones of Welsh Labour, Andrew RT Davies of the Welsh Conservatives, Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood, UKIP Wales' Nathan Gill, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams and Alice Hooker-Stroud of the Wales Green Party will go head-to-head at the St David's Hall in Cardiff.

The event will be broadcast from 8.30pm on BBC One Wales and moderated by broadcaster and journalist Huw Edwards.

It will be the second time all six leaders have clashed on live television, following last week's debate on ITV Cymru Wales.

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Union calls on Cameron to 'match words with real action'

David Cameron made a surprise visit to Port Talbot today. Credit: Benjamin Wright/PA Wire

Union bosses have welcomed the Prime Minister's visit to Port Talbot saying they're now waiting for him to 'match his words with real action."

Community general secretary Roy Rickhuss said he's been speaking regularly with UK Business Secretary Sajid Javid in recent weeks, but now David Cameron had met with workers and promised to do all he could.

The joint announcement by the UK and Welsh governments last week, including the proposal to take up to a 25 per cent stake in the business, was a big step forward and it was good to hear the Prime Minister reiterate that commitment today.

David Cameron has now joined the growing list of senior politicians who have visited Port Talbot, but today we made it clear that steelworks throughout England and Wales are also under threat. This is a national industrial crisis and the Prime Minister needs to act nationally and indeed globally to secure a sustainable future for the UK steel industry.

Steelworkers will now be watching and waiting for the Prime Minister to match his words with real action. We need immediate action to save the industry but also a long term plan to give UK steel making a fair chance to compete.

The Prime Minister has now seen first-hand the great blast furnaces of Port Talbot, both of which will be vital to any future success of the business.

He looked proud steelworkers in the eye and promised to do all he could to protect their jobs. Our 'Save Our Steel' campaign will continue as we hold him to his word

– Roy Rickhuss, Community Union

PM said he was 'unavailable' claims First Minister

The First Minister's political spokesperson has expressed "surprise and disappointment" that Carwyn Jones only learnt of the Prime Minister's visit to Port Talbot from Twitter. He claimed that David Cameron hadn't taken up previous invitations to Port Talbot or agreed to a meeting today to discuss the steel industry.

We were surprised and disappointed on hearing about the Prime Minister's visit via Twitter. We had invited him to Port Talbot previously, and indeed after various discussions and meetings the First Minister had undertaken on steel yesterday had asked for a meeting with the Prime Minister today. However, his office said he was unavailable. We've said throughout that we are willing to put our political differences aside in the interests of our steel industry, but it does require respect from all parties to make this work.

– Spokesperson for Carwyn Jones

Prime Minister in Port Talbot to meet Tata staff

David Cameron is in Port Talbot speaking to Tata Steel bosses and staff.

His official spokeswoman said the visit is "an opportunity for the PM to hear first hand their views and discuss the way forward."

During the private meeting, the Prime Minister will meet Tata's Europe chief executive Hans Fischer and have a tour of the plant with Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns.

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