The business and skills secretary Sajid Javid has been giving evidence to a select committee of MP's about the crisis in the UK steel industry.
He has been speaking about the closure of the SSI plant in Redcar - as well as the need to find a buyer for TATA Steel's other UK assets - including the Hartlepool Pipe Mill.
Talking about the SSI site Mr.Wright said:
"The fact that mothballing for a future potential owner was not considered is an absolute tragedy.
"We have lost these skills forever.
It is an absolute disgrace that was allowed to happen on your watch.
"We have lost a valuable asset."
Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of the Community union, said it took the closure of the Redcar steelworks to spur the Government into taking action to help the industry.
"The tragedy is that we were warning that Redcar was happening for some time.
I believe that plant should not have been allowed to go under.
The Government could have stepped in and secured the plant."
Mr Javid went on to tell MP's that Tata in India had told the Government in mid February it was "seriously considering" closing its steel operations in the UK, including Port Talbot.
The minister said his focus following the warning was to persuade Tata not to close plants immediately, but to give time to find another buyer.
Pressed by business select committee chairman and Hartlepool MP Iain Wright on why he had not travelled to Mumbai for the crucial board meeting on March 29 - Mr Javid said he did not believe a decision to immediately close the plants would be taken.
Sajid Javid admitted that with the benefit of hindsight he would have been in Mumbai at the time of the board meeting last month.