People ask me if I get out and about and see London: the answer is very rarely as I am in Westminster on weekdays and we don’t finish until late in the evening. However a fortnight ago I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go up the Shard: in my role as secretary of the all-party parliamentary steel group I had been invited by TATA steel to a breakfast launch of a report they had commissioned on the Foundation Industries. As we stood on the 68th floor and looked though the glass at the amazing view of the sun rising over London, Dr Karl-Ulrich Köhler CEO of TATA Europe reminded us that whilst we think of the Shard as glass, it contains 12,000 tonnes of steel.
Steel, other basic metal products, chemicals, wood, glass and cement are Foundation Industries, so called because they provide the materials which become infrastructure projects, or automotive/ aerospace products etc. You will not be surprised that Wales punches above its weight in respect of these industries. As the report says, it is absolutely vital that we support these industries and create a level playing field which enables businesses in the Foundation Industries to compete effectively in global markets and makes the UK an attractive location for inward investment. We also need to support our own industries through public sector procurement, using our own products for infrastructure projects.
That’s why in the run-up to the budget, we in the all-Party Parliamentary Group for the Steel and Metal Related Industry will be lobbying the Chancellor to create that level playing field and support this vital sector of our industry.