Government 'must step in to save steel jobs' says Labour

Nationalising Liberty Steel could offer the best value for money, Labour has said.

The shadow Business Secretary and Doncaster MP Ed Miliband says the Government needs to be willing to step in and look at public ownership if Liberty Steel is on the brink of collapse.

Thousands of jobs at steel plants in Stocksbridge, Rotherham and Scunthorpe could be at risk following the collapse of the company's main financial backer.

Asking an urgent question in the Commons, shadow business minister Lucy Powell said:

Mr Kwarteng said the Government's infrastructure plans need several million tonnes of steel over the next decade, adding:

"It's absolutely a commitment of mine as Secretary of State to ensure we have a viable steel industry in this country."

He earlier told MPs there is a "strong and united commitment" across management, the unions and Government officials to the steel industry.

Minister of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng Credit: PA Images

Labour MP Sarah Champion (Rotherham) urged the Government to commit to buying British steel for future projects.

She told the Commons: "(Kwasi Kwarteng) is well aware that Liberty in Rotherham employs 900 people and five times that in the local supply chain as steel goes into defence, energy, aviation, all key strategic industries.

Please commit to all Government procurement projects using steel committing to buy British steel in them because a full order book is the best way for us to see the future for our steel in this country."

Mr Kwarteng responded: "On procurement itself, I'd like to relay to (Ms Champion) that we have constructed here within the Government, within BEIS, a UK steel and BEIS procurement taskforce which met for the first time only a couple of weeks ago on March 12.

"This is chaired by my noble friend Lord Grimstone and we're absolutely committed to seeing what we can do to make sure that we have a strong steel industry in this country which will support the huge infrastructure needs that our country has in the next decade."

Liberty Steel employs just under 2000 people at its South Yorkshire plants in Rotherham and Stocksbridge. It owns a total of 12 sites across the UK.