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UK oil and gas industry 'very clear' on Sunak support despite Kate Forbes claim

The UK oil and gas industry is “very clear” over its approval for the Chancellor’s summer statement, an influential cross-party committee heard today.

Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee is taking evidence on Covid’s impact north of the border and welcomed high-ranking industry figures — Oil and Gas UK chief executive Deirdre Michie, Oil and Gas Technology Centre CEO Colette Cohen, and eminent scientist Professor John Underhill.

MPs heard there have been an estimated 7,500 redundancies in the North Sea and the UK Government’s job retention scheme has supported firms impacted by what Ms Michie described as a “triple whammy”.

She said:

“We are challenged — we have been hit by a triple whammy of Covid, the dramatic drop in oil price and the low, low gas prices.

“It happened overnight and it happened in a global context…

“We’re a big international industry but we’re a very small community. Certainly in the north east of Scotland we are feeling the impact.”

Ms Michie was asked to respond to Rishi Sunak’s mini-Budget which further defined the UK Treasury’s priorities for the job retention scheme, the creation of a bonus for employers to bring workers back from furlough, job boosts for young people and apprentices, amongst a "jobs package".

She said:

“We appreciated the government’s package in terms of the financial contribution.

“We have seen members using the furlough scheme and some of the other opportunities from the Scottish Government.

“We did welcome the announcement on the basis that it focused very much on jobs and supporting jobs, across all industries.

“There were also other aspects in terms of the carbon capture/air capture approach which were also very welcome."

On this morning's Good Morning Scotland radio programme, SNP finance secretary Kate Forbes claimed the statement did not support the industry and OGUK’s view on it would change.

Scottish Conservative MP for Moray, Douglas Ross, asked Ms Michie to clear up suggestions that “OGUK had not done their homework” before welcoming Mr Sunak’s statement.

He said:

“I’m surprised Kate Forbes …asked for a reaction to the Oil and Gas UK statement, said ‘well I would wait to see if that changes over the coming days’.

“That suggests from Scotland’s finance minister that OGUK had not done their homework before issuing their statement.”

Ms Michie responded:

“I am very clear that we did welcome the support that was given to jobs, it was a jobs package."

Scottish Conservative MP Andrew Bowie, who represents West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, asked whether the industry had learned how better to respond to drastic events, since the last major oil downturn in 2014.

He said:

“You spoke about how the industry has come together to get through the current crisis.

“Would you say that’s a lesson learned from the 2014/15 downturn?

“Prior to 2014, a lot of companies were very much siloed in their response.”

Ms Michie replied:

“We learned some tough lessons during the last downturn in terms of cost cutting, jobs being lost and there was a learning in terms of working together and pooling efficiencies.

“We are seeing businesses under pressure and we are seeing behaviours that are not exemplary … it’s tough times out there.”

Mr Ross said later:
"Kate Forbes has had a rough couple of days and should embrace the industry's positive outlook on measures worth up to £30 billion, instead of trying to manufacture grievance.  
"I’m pleased this hectoring attitude from the SNP has been seen for what it is. 
"I hope Kate Forbes will think again before she tries to put words into the mouth of such an important Scottish stakeholder." 

Five times ‘blundering’ Justice Secretary made a mistake

The Scottish Conservatives have uncovered five times Humza Yousaf, the Justice Secretary has made a mistake or mislead the Scottish people and the parliament.

Raising the latest incident in Holyrood today, Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary has accused the First Minister of covering up for a ‘blundering’ Justice Secretary who ‘runs from one mistake to the next’.

In response to a question from Mr Kerr today, the First Minister refused to publish official advice given to the Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf which, he claims, led him to mislead parliament.

Two weeks ago Mr Yousaf erroneously claimed to a Holyrood committee that quarantine checks had taken place on ‘approximately 20 per cent’ of travellers while on Monday Ms Sturgeon stated that no such checks had taken place.

This is simply the latest time the Justice Secretary has provided misleading information to parliament and the public.

Other instances include mistakes on the controversial hate crimes bill, the state of police stations, crime statistics and ministerial engagements.

Liam Kerr, asked the First Minister if she would clear up this latest confusion given that Mr Yousaf has blamed his officials for his inaccurate statements.

Mr Kerr demanded; “Will the First Minister promise today to publish the advice the Justice Secretary was given, from both his officials and Police Scotland, so we can find out the truth of this matter?” 

Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary said;


“The First Minister can’t cover up for this blundering Justice Secretary who simply runs from one mistake to another.

“Having admitted he mislead parliament already once this summer, Mr Yousaf is now unfairly blaming his officials for this latest gaffe.

“The First Minister must publish the advice the Justice Secretary was given to set the record straight.

“Mr Yousaf now has a track record of getting the facts wrong.

“Government ministers have a duty to provide accurate information to MSPs and the public, it appears Mr Yousaf does not take this seriously.”


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