North Sea taxes not likely to rise in independent Scotland claims Chief Treasury Secretary

Former Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander
Former Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander

Chief Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander has admitted that North Sea taxes are already ‘pretty high’ and not likely to rise if Scotland becomes independent.

The Highland MP – who was reportedly the architect of the controversial £10billion tax rise for offshore producers in 2011 – made the remarks while giving evidence to a Westminster committee.

The Liberal Democrat also reiterated his call for the Scottish Government to publish revised forecasts for North Sea revenues, claiming its current projections were not “worth the paper they are written on”.

Asked at the Scottish affairs committee if SNP ministers could bring in a higher North Sea tax regime to make up the suggested revenue shortfall after independence, Mr Alexander said: “The amount of tax paid, in terms of tax rates in the oil and gas sector is already pretty high.

“That’s certainly not been part of any of their public statements, it hasn’t even been part of any of the secret memos that go around the Scottish Government and get leaked occasionally.”

He added: “The OBR’s (Office for Budget Responsibility) latest forecast for the Budget had I think over the forecast period cumulative revenues from oil and gas of I think £24billion.

“The Scottish Government publish a range from the most pessimistic to the most optimistic. Their most pessimistic was £41billion in that period.

“I just don’t think these SNP forecasts are worth the paper they are written on.”

A spokesman for John Swinney called for Mr Alexander to apologise for Westminster’s ‘mismanagement of the industry’.

He said: “The North Sea offshore sector can look forward to a very bright future in an independent Scotland. In the meantime, Danny Alexander should apologise for Westminster’s mismanagement of the industry, which has seen numerous changes to the tax regime over the last decade – and 14 different oil ministers in the last 17 years.”