Wales

David Cameron and Carwyn Jones discuss Tata Steel support

Steel workers holding "save our steel" placards Image copyright AFP

The prime minister and first minister will meet to discuss UK government support for a buyer for Port Talbot steelworks.

It comes amid reports of potential buyers for the plant where thousands of jobs are at risk after Tata Steel said it was selling its UK operations.

The government says it is ready to offer help to secure a purchase.

David Cameron and Carwyn Jones will meet on Tuesday to discuss the situation.

It will come a day after assembly members meet to discuss the crisis during a specially-reconvened debate on Monday.

Mr Jones has called on the UK government to give the British steel industry the same support given banks during the financial crisis.

Writing in The Independent this weekend, Mr Jones said there was "a moral, economic and strategic case" to do the same for steel.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said the government's plan to save the plant - and industry - was to find a commercial buyer for all of Tata's UK businesses.

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Media captionSajid Javid: "I will do everything I can to keep this plant open"

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr show, he said the government's plan to save the plant - and industry - was to find a commercial buyer for all of Tata's UK businesses.

"We're going to also have to offer support to eventually clinch that buyer and to give this steel plant a long-term viable future," he said.

A source close to steel tycoon Sanjeev Gupta, founder of commodities firm Liberty House, confirmed he had been in contact with the government as a possible buyer for the Port Talbot steelworks, which employs 4,100 people and is said to be losing £1m a day.

The source told the BBC the discussions had not been substantive yet, but Mr Gupta is due to arrive in the UK from Dubai this week and would be seeking further talks on the issue.

Tata announced plans last week to sell its loss-making UK plants. Unless a buyer can be found, thousands of jobs are at risk.

The business directly employs 15,000 workers and supports thousands of others and includes plants in Port Talbot, Rotherham, Corby and Shotton.

It also has sites in in Llanwern and Newport, Shotton in Flintshire and Trostre in Llanelli.

German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp has also been touted as another potential buyer, according to the Observer.

Meanwhile, the UK government said all public sector bodies would be required to think about the impact of using foreign steel for construction projects, in a bid to encourage buying British steel.

Ministers have faced criticism for failing to take more action to prevent the "dumping" of cheap Chinese steel - selling it cheaply at a loss - seen as one of the key reasons for the problems in the UK steel industry.

The Welsh Government said a task force was already looking at supporting the steel industry through public sector contracts in devolved areas.


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Image copyright Reuters

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The Welsh Liberal Democrats say there are still questions for the first minister to answer about the Welsh Government's handling of the situation.

They point out that two of the things the steel industry have called for - action on business rates and public sector procurement - are in the hands of Welsh ministers.

A Welsh Conservatives spokesman said: "We are pleased to see that the UK government is taking steps to reform procurement rules to give UK steel a fair chance and that is a step the Welsh Government should also consider, along with offering business rate relief."

Jonathan Edwards, Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, said: "Wales cannot go on with a government with such abject lack of ambition and which is willing to idly stand by rather than stand up for our vital steel industry."

Mark Reckless of UKIP Wales added: "The government has done next to nothing to save our steel or protect workers in Part Talbot and beyond."

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