Weir puts case for oil and gas industry as part of an independent Scotland

Mike Weir
Mike Weir

Local MP Mike Weir recently set out a case for benefits to Scottish industry if the country opts for independence.

Mr Weir, the SNP’s energy spokesman at Westminster, was speaking at the ‘Putting Energy into the Debate’ event organised last week by the Aberdeen and Grampian Chambers of Commerce.

He said: “There have been 16 substantive changes to the fiscal regime over the past decade. I well remember the urgent briefings from Oil and Gas UK after each and every one the latest being the budget before last where the chancellor imposed a tax to cut fuel duty, and was eventually forced to give some compensation for older fields to offset the effects.

“Many of these changes have been made without any prior consultation and have earned the UK a reputation for fiscal instability in oil and gas taxation. And it is not just the present Chancellor who must take the blame - the UK Oil and Gas Activity Report noted that.

“The lack of new fields coming on stream can be attributed to the damage done to investors confidence by the numerous adverse tax changes in the early and mid 2000s.”

“We have set out definite principles as to how we intend to deal with the industry. We have no plans to increase the overall tax burden on the oil industry and no changes will be made to the fiscal regime without consultation.

“This does not give the industry a veto over changes, but it does ensure that there is prior discussion, no sudden changes that would adversely affect the industry and that your concerns will be listened to prior to any changes being made – not a scramble afterwards to put right damage caused.”

He added that an Expert Commission has been established already to “consider an appropriate fiscal and regulatory regime for oil and gas” in an independent Scotland. Mr Weir also set out the SNP plans to establish a sovereign wealth fund, the Scottish Energy Fund, after a ‘Yes’ vote to help manage short-term fluctuations in oil revenues and promote long-term fiscal sustainability.