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Foreign Steel Used For Big Ben Refurbishment
One of the most iconic landmarks in the UK is currently under refurbishment, with lots of steel scaffolding now erected around the Elizabeth Tower – home to the world-famous Big Ben bell.
The conservation project has drawn some criticism already, however, with many concerned that the bell would be silenced for four years as the work is carried out. And now, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph, more eyebrows have been raised at the fact that the renovations are being carried out using foreign steel from places like the United Arab Emirates, Brazil and Germany.
The House of Commons Commission has responded to questions from MP Stephen Kinnock – whose constituency is home to the Port Talbot steel plant – saying that the size and quantity of the scaffolding required means that some of the steel due to be used has to be procured from overseas.
Yet steelmakers in this country are still facing intense competition from companies abroad and are finding it hard to recover from the steel crisis a few years ago, which cost thousands of jobs.
Mr Kinnock was quoted by the news source as saying: “Big Ben is seen as symbol of our country around the world, but its renovation is fast becoming a symbol of this government’s indifferent and incompetent approach to our steel industry.
“British steelworkers make the best steel that money can buy, and what’s more they make it right here on our doorstep. If given the right information and sufficient lead-time by the customer, then they can and always deliver.”
A Parliamentary spokesman responded to the comments, saying that the origin of most of the steel used is in fact British and all the structures have been put together here in the UK. But the size of the components needed has meant that some steel will have to be sourced from overseas suppliers.
Earlier this month (October 16th), a group of 59 MPs led by Chuka Umunna, former business secretary for Labour, called for the House of Commons and the House of Lords Commissions to reconsider its move to award the restoration contract to Sir Robert McAlpine.
Sir Robert McAlpine was, according to Construction News, one of more than 40 contractors involved in a job blacklisting scandal exposed back in 2009. The MPs have now called for another contractor to be given the job – one with no history of employment blacklisting.
The MPs continued, saying that because of the high profile nature of the Big Ben project, giving the contract to McAlpine was in fact both inappropriate and also insulting to those who were affected by the blacklisting in the construction sector a few years ago.
The motion continued to say: “[The contract award] sends a message that firms can engage in such unacceptable practices without serious consequences.”
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