WALES' secretary of state has been accused of being “uninterested” in Newport and Port Talbot’s steelworks, and “casually discarding” thousands of jobs.

Last week, Tata Steel confirmed it is shutting its blast furnaces at the South Wales site after rejecting a last-minute union plea to change its plans.

In the House of Commons today, Tuesday, April 30, Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant criticised the Secretary of State for failing to assess the economic impact the 2,800 expected job losses will have on communities.

South Wales Argus: Labour MP Sir Chris BryantLabour MP Sir Chris Bryant (Image: File)

Meanwhile, Mr Davies accused Labour members of pretending to have “a special, costed, secret plan that would save all of those jobs”.

After seven months of discussions with unions, Tata Steel revealed it is proceeding with its £1.25 billion investment to build an electric arc furnace on the site, and will close the two blast furnaces by the end of June and end of September respectively.

Read more: Tata Steel union members hand petition to the Senedd

During an urgent question on the issue, Mr Davies said the closing of blast furnaces will have “no impact” on the UK’s steelmaking ability.

South Wales Argus: Welsh Secretary and Monmouth MP, David TC DaviesWelsh Secretary and Monmouth MP, David TC Davies (Image: File)

This came in response to shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens, who said the news of job losses was “a gut punch” for workers in Port Talbot.

She added: “This Government has forked out £500 million taxpayers’ cash for the loss of 3,000 jobs and this is their deal, and they own it.

“Added to that, the loss of sovereign steelmaking is a fundamental threat to our UK economy and security. It will constrain our ability to build floating offshore wind that we need to lower energy bills, deliver energy security and create the jobs of the future.”

South Wales Argus: Shadow Welsh secretary, Jo StevensShadow Welsh secretary, Jo Stevens (Image: File)

Mr Davies replied: “It has no impact on sovereign steelmaking, if (Ms Stevens) talks to Tata she will understand, (Ms Stevens) is chuntering here, but all of the iron ore which goes into those blast furnaces comes from abroad.

“All of the coal which is turned into coke is coming in from abroad. All of the limestone is coming in from abroad. It, therefore, has no impact whatsoever on our sovereign steel-making ability.”

South Wales Argus: Tata Steel has sites in Newport and Port TalbotTata Steel has sites in Newport and Port Talbot (Image: File)

Mr Davies replied: “Clearly there’s going to be an impact on those in the supply chain, and there’s been absolutely no doubt about that. That’s why at the transition board meeting, at which he was present, we discussed that and we agreed that we would want to support anyone in the supply chain who’s been affected by it.

“But we can’t start putting numbers on it, it would be irresponsible to start trying to guess a number of people.”

Mr Davies argued that the multi-union Syndex plan, which involved keeping one of the blast furnaces open while the electric arc furnace was built,  “isn’t a plan unless Tata agree to it."

South Wales Argus: Labour MP for Newport East, Jessica MordenLabour MP for Newport East, Jessica Morden (Image: File)

Labour MP Jessica Morden (Newport East) said: “The lack of ambition from this Government for our steel industry is just disgraceful.”

Mr Davies replied: “There has been a lack of responsibility on behalf of some Labour members, though not any in this chamber here, who seem to have gone round suggesting that they have a special costed, secret plan that would save all of those jobs, they don’t.”

South Wales Argus: Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts (Dwyfor Meirionnydd)Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts (Dwyfor Meirionnydd) (Image: File)

Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts (Dwyfor Meirionnydd) said: “In the Netherlands political pressure resulted in Tata investing in an electric arc furnace and direct produced iron technology, all the while protecting jobs and keeping blast furnaces open.

“The German government is spending £2.2 billion – over four times more than the UK – to transform its steel industry towards hydrogen. Why is the UK so uniquely incapable of effective investment in our strategic steel future?”

Mr Davies replied: “There is, however, nothing whatsoever to stop Tata at some point in the future, from building a DRI (direct reduced iron) plant, to go along with the electric arc furnace if they believe that is a commercially sensible thing to do.

“But even if they do that, it is not really going to resolve the problem that we face, of 2,800 jobs being lost in Port Talbot – at best it would save another 200 jobs.”