Oil and gas sector ‘needs continuity’, says Scottish Labour deputy leader

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (right) with newly elected Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard and Lesley Laird MP ahead of the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday November 26, 2017. See PA story SCOTLAND Labour. Photo credit should read: John Linton/PA Wire
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (right) with newly elected Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard and Lesley Laird MP ahead of the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday November 26, 2017. See PA story SCOTLAND Labour. Photo credit should read: John Linton/PA Wire

Scottish Labour deputy leader Lesley Laird visited Aberdeen to speak to oil and fish industry leaders.

Ms Laird, who is also shadow Scottish Secretary, met staff from Oil and Gas UK to discuss concerns about long-term plans for the sector, as well as Brexit.

Concerns have been highlighted about the number of energy ministers appointed at Westminister over recent years, with Claire Perry being the latest appointee to the post.

“The industry does need some continuity,” said Ms Laird. “It takes time to build up knowledge and expertise in such a complex area.

“(It’s) a bit like a football team…if you constantly change the players then you can’t expect to get the best performance.”

Ms Laird also pledged to take up concerns with overpayments for the apprenticeship levy with the Scottish and UK governments.

She said: “In some instances companies are paying twice because as a member of the industry body they already pay to support training and development.

“Since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, in some cases they are having to pay again – so they are being double-taxed if you like.

“We have raised this already with Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse, who I think is amenable to looking into these cases, so I will contact him again.”

Ms Laird also met Mike Park, chief executive of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, and Ian Gatt, president of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, who were concerned about Brexit negotiations.

“They would like to see a recognition fishing doesn’t have to be under the ‘either in or out’ umbrella,” she said. “We are coming up to some major deadlines for the sector and, without political leadership, businesses are starting to have to decide what they need to do to stop themselves falling off a cliff edge.”

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