Scottish Liberal Democrats Energy Spokesperson, Liam McArthur has today accused the Scottish Government of “shirking responsibility” for the Oil and Gas sector.
At this morning’s meeting of the Scottish Parliament Parliamentary Bureau, Scottish Liberal Democrat's Business Manager Alison McInnes MSP called on the Scottish Government to bring forward a debate on the solutions required to meet the immediate and long term challenges facing the oil and gas sector.
Ministers declined to set aside time allocated to the Scottish Government to debate the oil and gas sector.
In recent months, the price of oil has hit a 12-year low with a barrel of international benchmark Brent crude dropping below $28 yesterday (Monday, 18 January).
In a report published last year, Oil & Gas UK estimated that the wider oil and gas sector could face further job losses despite having already suffered an estimated loss of 65,000.
The last time the Scottish Parliament debated the oil and gas sector was March 10th 2015. There was a ministerial statement on the future prosperity for the North Sea in September 2015, but this did not allow wider debate of the issues facing the sector.
Commenting, Liam McArthur said:
“Given the importance of the oil and gas sector to Scotland’s economy, and the seriousness of challenges currently facing that sector, it beggars belief that SNP Ministers are unwilling to schedule time for parliament to debate these issues. The Scottish Government dominates the parliamentary timetable, yet Ministers appear to believe the needs of the oil and gas sector are not worthy of proper debate.
“Tens of thousands of jobs in the sector have been lost in the last 12 months, and contractors say that more workers are in the firing line. In these circumstances, those in the industry will question why the First Minister has failed to meet with her energy jobs chief over the last six months and why some SNP MSPs have denied that there is any crisis at all.
“If this situation is not a suitable issue for a debate on government time, what is?"
“We need to see the UK and Scottish Governments working in collaboration with the Oil & Gas Authority to find solutions to the problems faced by this vital sector. At the moment, however, Scottish Ministers seem to want to shirk their responsibility and duck the debate.”