‘PM must help save oil jobs’
Call over tax move
PRIME Minister David Cameron was urged to speak to the oil industry today to ensure vital Northeast jobs are not lost.
Lib Dem MP Malcolm Bruce, who has already hit out at Chancellor George Osborne’s £2 billion a year tax raid on North Sea firms, urged the Prime Minister to step in and ensure the energy giants did not move out.
It follows an announcement from Norwegian firm Statoil that it was cancelling a £6bn investment in the North Sea.
Mr Osborne has defended his decision to impose the charge, designed to fund a 1p-a-litre drop in fuel duty – insisting it would not halt exploration.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions the PM said he would look “very carefully” at the issue.
Mr Cameron said: “The point I would raise about Statoil is that when you look at the regime in Norway they actually have higher taxes on petrol and on duties than we do in the UK.
“When the companies in the North Sea made investment decisions, the oil price was around $65 a barrel. It is now around $115 a barrel.
“I think the break we are giving to the motorist by cutting petrol tax, many of whom rely on their cars, I think will be hugely welcome.”
Speaking afterwards, Mr Bruce, pictured, said: “It is perhaps predictable that the Prime Minister chose to defend his Chancellor’s policy, but he did indicate that the Government would look to liaise with the sector, which I welcome.” Both Mr Bruce, who represents Gordon and West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine’s Lib Dem Robert Smith hit out at the proposals in last week’s Budget.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore was set to meet North Sea operators, trade unions and suppliers to discuss the future of the industry. The meeting of PILOT, was being held in London today.
“Cameron must help oil industry”, Page 6