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North Sea Oil and Gas

Volume 615: debated on Wednesday 12 October 2016

8. What discussions the Government have had with oil and gas companies on support for North sea industry. (906397)

10. What discussions the Government have had with oil and gas companies on support for North sea industry. (906399)

The Government continue to work closely with industry, both directly and through the Oil and Gas Authority, to drive investment and support jobs in the North sea.

Revenue from North sea oil has dropped by more than £10 billion over the past two years. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that public services in Scotland do not suffer as a result of this shortfall in public revenue?

As my colleague rightly notes, there has been a shock in the oil and gas industry resulting from global changes. As the latest public finance figures show, being part of the UK protects living standards in Scotland. The drop in revenues has been offset by a vigorous programme of Government support in tax relief and allowances, as well as in a host of other areas.

The supply of home-grown feed stocks is vital to the Cheshire chemicals industry and is in part reliant on the success of North sea oil and gas. Can the Minister assure the House that the Government will continue to take steps to support the many jobs in our foundation industries that depend very much on this sector?

My colleague is absolutely right to highlight this issue. The UK chemicals sector is a vital part of our manufacturing industry and an important contributor to the economy. The Government are working closely with the industry to implement the desire to grow gross value added by £105 billion by 2030, and a key element of that will be delivering competitive energy and feed stock supplies.

Industry has been crystal clear that more work needs to be done to boost exploration. Will the Government bring forward exploration incentives in the autumn statement to protect employment and boost production?

Exploration remains very important. The continental shelf is depleting. As the hon. Gentleman will know, the Government have taken some serious steps in Aberdeen with the city deal. I will not comment on the autumn statement, but it is an issue of some focus for the Government.

Since Question Time began this morning, five Members on the Scottish National party Benches have asked about membership of the European Union, and two have asked about Scottish jobs. Seven Members on the Conservative Benches wanted to talk about Scottish independence. Which group would the Secretary of State describe as being obsessed with independence?

I can do no better than to refer the hon. Gentleman to the words of Adam Smith, who said that the Union of 1707 was

“a measure from which infinite good has been derived”

for Scotland.