FMQs: call for SNP info on oil revenues

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An update on Scotland’s oil revenues promised “within weeks” has yet to emerge eight weeks on, the Conservatives claimed at First Minister’s Questions yesterday.

Finance Secretary John Swinney promised to update his oil revenue forecasts after the Scottish Government’s forecast for 2013 turned out to be £3 billion out, Tory leader Ruth Davidson told MSPs.

John Swinney Picture: TSPL

John Swinney Picture: TSPL

Scottish Parliament officials have been pressing Mr Swinney for an update for the last two weeks but have yet to receive a release date, she said at First Minister’s Questions.

First Minister Alex Salmond said the new analysis “will be released” and warned the Tories that it will contain a critique of their own track record of undervaluing Scotland’s oil over the last 40 years.

Ms Davidson said: “Eight weeks ago today John Swinney promised my colleague Gavin Brown in this chamber a fresh analysis of Scotland’s oil production ‘within weeks’. Nearly two months on, still silence from this Government.

“Last year, the difference between the SNP’s projected income for oil and what was actually collected was nearly £3 billion.

“The SNP has a duty to tell people how they would balance the books in an independent Scotland.

“Instead, all we have had is promises of updates, month after month and week after week.

“If they haven’t done a fresh analysis, why not, and if they have why won’t they publish?”

She added: “It’s not just me that’s asking, because the Scottish Parliament’s own information service asked the Government for answers two weeks ago and were told ‘soon’. Then they asked last week and were told ‘soon’.”

Mr Salmond said: “The analysis will be released as Mr Swinney committed himself to.

“I think Ruth Davidson should be very careful what she wishes for in these matters.

“As that analysis is released it will examine the UK Government’s track record in forecasting oil revenues, not just over the last few years but the last 30 to 40 years.

“If we believed the Conservative Party on the subject of Scotland’s oil it would all have been finished over 10 years ago, was the forecast of the Conservative spokesperson.

“So, when that forecast comes out it will look at the credibility of an Office For Budget Responsibility that suggests that oil prices will be less than 100 US dollars a barrel when they are currently 110 US dollars a barrel.

“It will look at the credibility of the forecasts of an OBR which says under 100 US dollars a barrel when the Department of Energy and Climate Change is pushing towards 130 US dollars a barrel.

“There is a fundamental question: will it go as the last 40 years and disappear into the maw of the London Treasury, or will it be used to invest in the economy and future life chances of an independent Scotland?”