Oil and Gas Industry — [Mr Philip Hollobone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 12:24 pm on 9 October 2018.

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Photo of Kirsty Blackman Kirsty Blackman Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Economy), SNP Deputy Leader, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Economy) 12:24, 9 October 2018

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I thank my hon. Friend John Mc Nally for obtaining the debate. The timing is good, as other Members have mentioned, given that we are in the run-up to the Budget.

I want to talk first about Brexit, which several colleagues from throughout the House have mentioned. The economic report put out by Oil & Gas UK makes the point that 7% of the offshore workforce are from EU countries and refers to the fact that before Bulgaria joined the EU it took four days for goods to come from there to Aberdeen to be used in the oil and gas industry, but that they were routinely held up for an additional week because of customs controls. If we do not have a customs union deal that allows for those goods to come through the border without being held up for a week, it will cause problems for our supply chain companies and for the wider industry. A fifth of people living in Aberdeen were not born in the UK. We have done immensely well at attracting immigration, which has been good for our industry. It is a huge concern that that might be less easy after Brexit, particularly if the immigration plans mentioned at the Conservative party conference go through and we end up in a situation where very few immigrants are allowed to come to the UK. That would cause a real problem for my city and for the oil and gas industry as a whole.

Andrew Bowie set out particularly clearly the requirement for a stable taxation regime for the oil and gas industry. One of the points most often raised with me is that if there is a story in the Financial Times about the possibility of the Treasury increasing, or massively changing, tax in relation to oil and gas, that story alone causes a problem for the industry—it makes a dent. We need a clear commitment from the Chancellor in the Budget to stability and predictability in the taxation regime.