This is the third debate on oil taxation in which I have participated. It is extraordinary how much change there has been in the Government's attitude towards the taxation of North sea oil in those two years. Two years ago, the Government introduced the supplementary petroleum duty and, with some justification, the oil companies complained that they had been severely clobbered. Last year, the Government withdrew SPD and introduced advance petroleum revenue tax instead. Again the oil companies shrieked at what they said was unjust treatment. This year, the pendulum seems to have swung almost entirely the other way and the Government appear to have given oil companies all that they asked for.
In a four-point package announced in the Budget, the Chancellor described the Government's decisions about phasing out advance petroleum revenue tax, which is the subject of this amendment. He also announced that there would be PRT release for new oilfields, that the oil allowance would be doubled and that no royalties would be payable for new fields except those onshore and in the profitable southern basin. The cost of those changes is estimated to be £800 million over four years or £200 million this year.
Although there have been three major upheavals in the taxation of the North sea in the past three Budgets, since the Government have come to power there have been 10 sets of major changes.