Galloway calls for North Sea tax raid over ‘squandered’ revenue

George Galloway MP
George Galloway MP

George Galloway called for a massive increase in oil and gas taxes last night – claiming the UK Treasury had “squandered” hundreds of billions of pounds in lost revenue.

The Respect MP has lodged a motion at Westminster calling on the government to implement Scandinavian-style levies on North Sea firms, and use the cash to ease the “savagery” of coalition welfare cuts.

The Dundee-born left-winger told the Press and Journal that the UK Government was “far too close” to the offshore industry, and was acting in its interests rather than those of taxpayers.

Chancellor George Osborne provoked fury in 2011 when he announced a surprise £10billion tax raid on producers, which led to claims major North Sea investments were being scrapped or shelved.

Mr Galloway branded the response “nonsense”.

The Bradford West MP said: “The fact is that Britain has the lowest percentage take of all five North Sea oil and gas producers. Even Schleswig-Holstein takes more than we do.

“Had we taxed the companies at the levels of, for instance, Denmark and Norway, we would be bringing in an extra £10billion a year.”

The figures were disputed by the industry.

Asked about the impact on firms, Mr Galloway said: “Companies have, albeit grudgingly, paid up to the other national governments the increased levies and they would continue to do so, at a higher rate, in the UK fields.”

The figures are based on research by Juan Carlos Boue, linked to the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. The academic could not be contacted last night.

A spokeswoman for trade body Oil and Gas UK expressed “concern over the accuracy” of the numbers last night.