Ruth Davidson: Osborne must act on North Sea oil

Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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SCOTTISH Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has called for the Chancellor to act now on measures to support the North Sea oil and gas industry.

She said George Osborne “must go further” in the upcoming Budget and that billions more barrels could be extracted with the proper tax regime.

We need to send out a big signal that the North Sea is open for business

Ruth Davidson

The industry has been calling for urgent tax cuts as it braces itself for further job losses amid falling oil prices.

Mr Osborne announced a programme of reform across the sector’s tax regime in December and implemented an immediate cut to the supplementary charge levied against oil firms.

In January, the Government launched a “fast-tracked consultation” into a new allowance designed to reward investment in the North Sea.

The Chancellor also promised to provide further support to industry in his March 2015 Budget.

Ms Davidson said: “The Chancellor acted in December to reduce some taxes on the industry.

“But given the emergency we are facing, he must go further.

“We need to send out a big signal that the North Sea is open for business.

“So, I’ve been pressing George Osborne in the last few weeks to ensure that, when he unveils his Budget in March, he does just that.”

Ms Davidson’s call follows pressure for urgent action from industry body Oil and Gas UK, the Scottish Government and shadow chancellor Ed Balls.

Speaking in Edinburgh yesterday, Mr Balls said: “I am really surprised we have not had any proper signal from the Treasury about the North Sea and taxation.

“I didn’t think they should just let this sit until the Budget.”

Ms Davidson added: “I feel increasingly optimistic that we’ll get a positive message next month when the Chancellor stands up at the despatch box.

“However, let’s also be clear that a tax cut won’t be the panacea to the North Sea’s problems.

“If we are going to really ensure that the North Sea has the viable future we all want, then we need to see a fresh approach to the way it does business.”

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