The Economy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:28 pm on 8th July 2020.

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Photo of Stephen Flynn Stephen Flynn Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Treasury - Financial Secretary) 6:28 pm, 8th July 2020

I rise to partake in this debate in frustration, because at the start of March I highlighted in the Chamber during the Budget debate the fact that the oil price had collapsed and that the Government needed to provide support. Obviously, we then went into lockdown and the price collapsed even further. I raised concerns in the only way possible at that time, by writing directly to Ministers on numerous occasions, and I joined my colleagues, my hon. Friends the Members for Aberdeen North (Kirsty Blackman), for Gordon (Richard Thomson) and for Angus (Dave Doogan), to do likewise. I have raised the issue at every possible occasion in the public domain. I raised it in the Public Bill Committee during the passage of the Finance Bill and I raised it in this Chamber last week and again earlier today, yet still there is not a word from the Chancellor in respect of an oil and gas sector deal. I cannot describe how frustrating that is in a manner that would not get me into a lot of trouble with you, Mr Deputy Speaker.

The reality is that the sector has put £365 billion-worth of income into the Treasury. This is not just about protecting the jobs of the individuals in the sector at this moment in time; it is about what comes next. It is about being able to reach net zero. It is about being able to create an sustainable energy future for Aberdeen and for Scotland, be that through the hydrogen backbone across Europe, through an energy transition zone, or through the Acorn project on carbon capture and underground storage. So much could be announced, but to date the Government have continued to sit silent. The consequence of that has been job loss after job loss after job loss, and it is my constituents who are having to face that harsh reality.

On top of the challenges in hospitality and tourism, and all the other challenges that everyone else has in their constituency, the challenge facing Aberdeen because of the downturn in the oil price is huge. It is time for this Government to step up to the plate. I am fed up with asking them to deliver. What I am asking them to deliver on is their own manifesto commitment, nothing more, nothing less. They need to step up to the plate and do it now. If they do not, they need only look at the polls from Scotland to see that the tide is turning. The people of Scotland’s eyes have been readily awoken to how shambolic this UK Government are, and if they continue to ignore our needs we will respond accordingly.