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Oil and Gas Industry

Volume 630: debated on Wednesday 25 October 2017

3. What steps the Government are taking to support the oil and gas industry in the north-east of Scotland. (901326)

4. What steps the Government are taking to support the marine oil and gas industry in the north-east of Scotland. (901327)

I have regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues and Scottish Government Ministers on a wide range of issues, including fiscal policy across the UK, fisheries, and the oil and gas industry.

My right hon. Friend will know as well as I do the importance of the oil and gas industry in north-east Scotland. Considering the recent decision by the First Minister in Scotland to abolish the Energy Jobs Taskforce, will my right hon. Friend confirm that the UK Government remain fully committed to our North sea industries and will work with colleagues from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to ensure the brightest future for the oil and gas industries in the north-east of Scotland?

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend, and I share his disappointment. Through challenging times, the broad shoulders of the UK Government have supported the oil and gas industry to the tune of £2.3 billion. We have invested in surveying the seabed, established a new independent regulator and invested in developing world-leading infrastructure, research and technology through the Aberdeen city deal. [Interruption.]

These are very important matters affecting the people of Scotland, and I think we ought to respect them by having some attention to our proceedings.

I welcome the announcement last month of the Scottish Business Taskforce. Would my right hon. Friend like to expand on what its role will be with the oil, gas and sub-sea industries, which are predominately based around my constituency?

I recognise that my hon. Friend, although a new Member, has become a champion of the oil, gas and sub-sea industries. I can confirm today that the Scottish Business Taskforce, which was announced last month, will meet for the first time on Friday. The taskforce will provide expert advice and guidance on how best to support our most important sectors—not least oil, gas and sub-sea—and strengthen Scotland’s economy. I will be announcing its membership later today.

It is difficult to see how we can support the oil and gas industry in Scotland when the Secretary of State refuses to release the assessment of the impact of Brexit on the Scottish economy. Will he tell the House whether the Secretary of State for Brexit was correct today at the Exiting the European Union Committee that that assessment has been shared with the Scottish Government? When will it be shared with the Scottish people?

I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman does not follow the Scottish Affairs Committee’s deliberations; he used to be a very prominent member of it. I made it very clear yesterday that there was a sharing of analysis, as is appropriate between Governments, but we will not be publishing anything that will be detrimental to our negotiations, and that is what the people of Scotland would want.

Given that, as we have heard, information has been shared with the Scottish Government, would it not be appropriate to make it public and perhaps to impress on the Scottish Government that they should also do that? The people of Scotland should see what the impact of Brexit is going to be in order to make a proper assessment of it.

We are regularly called on to respect the Scottish Government. I respect the Scottish Government and this Government respect the Scottish Government—that is why we are working with them on Brexit. But it would not be in the interests of Scotland or the United Kingdom to publish any information that would be detrimental to our negotiating position.