Aberdeen MP Kirsty Blackman made the accusations amid Tory calls for oil industry tax reform
KIRSTY BLACKMAN, SNP MP for Aberdeen North, has accused the UK Government of exploiting the North Sea oil industry at the expense of Scottish jobs.
Blackman made the comments in the aftermath of a joint letter being sent from the Oil and Gas All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond, calling for the introduction of Transferable Tax History (TTH), a mechanism which would allow oil companies to transfer corporation tax data from a seller to a buyer, allowing the buyer to receive tax refunds for which they were previously ineligible.
“If we finally get some long overdue movement from the Chancellor then Scotland’s new Tory MPs don’t deserve an ounce of credit.” SNP MP Kirsty Blackman
Blackman, who is also a member of the Oil and Gas APPG and deputy leader of the SNP Westminster group, said: “While any support for the sector is welcome, this is just the latest call for the very same tax relief the Tories announced in their last two budgets and have delayed for far too long.
“If we finally get some long overdue movement from the Chancellor then Scotland’s new Tory MPs don’t deserve an ounce of credit for that.
“The Tories have some brass neck – they’ve dithered through the downturn while oil and gas jobs have been lost in their thousands.” SNP MP Kirsty Blackman
Echoing recent accusations in the Scottish press that the UK Government has mismanaged North Sea oil, Blackman continued: “The Tories have some brass neck – they’ve dithered through the downturn while oil and gas jobs have been lost in their thousands.
“When the going was good the UK government taxed North Sea oil to the hilt and enjoyed the spoils, but when things got tough they ran for cover and Scotland’s economy didn’t get a penny.”
Ross Thomson, Conservative MP for Aberdeen South and an advocate of TTH, struck a more optimistic note, saying: “I have spoken to the Chancellor about the importance of introducing transferable tax history, and welcomed him to Aberdeen for a visit last month.
“He has seen first-hand the potential for a recovering oil and gas industry, which will benefit the UK economy immensely and revitalise communities across the UK.”
However, tax reform for in the North Sea sector may encounter further opposition, given recent increased scrutiny of how the current tax regime already favours oil companies.
Richard Leonard, the bookies’ favourite in the Scottish Labour leadership race, the ballot for which opened last week, has, like Blackman, advocated further investment in energy industries, but has also spoken in favour of government acquisition of strategic stakes in the North Sea’s oil and gas fields, as well as in the burgeoning renewable energy sector.
“Maximisation of economic recovery must shift emphasis towards maximising national wealth rather than that of oil companies.” Energy sector expert Professor Alex Russell
In his six-part series ‘The Great Oil Swindle’, published in the National newspaper last week, energy sector expert Professor Alex Russell asked if targets should be set for the Scottish Government’s tax take from oil companies, as well as questioning the UK Government’s focus on maximising oil production, rather than oil-related jobs.
Noting that in 2016-17 the tax take was actually negative, Professor Russell wrote: “The government effectively paid the oil companies to increase production through tax rebates and investment allowances. And, according to Oil and Gas UK, total oil-related job losses in the North Sea was a staggering 60,000, some 20,000 higher than had been forecast.
“Maximisation of economic recovery must shift emphasis towards maximising national wealth rather than that of oil companies which seem happy to outsource jobs from Aberdeen to India when the mood takes them.”
Picture courtesy of IrenicRhonda
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