Ahead of the expected publication of Smith Commission’s draft clauses today on more devolution to Holyrood from Westminster, a leading business organisation has called for Scotland to have more say over N. Sea oil taxation.
In written evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Devolution Committee, the Institute of Directors called for R&D tax credits to be varied to support research in Scotland, for a “Scottish input to the tax on oil receipts”.
A spokesman for the IoD added: “Levels of oil exploration taxes may not be seen as an easy target for devolution, but whether they are or not, they need to be more closely and realistically aligned to the state of the industry offshore UK.
“That may suggest a Scottish input to the tax on oil receipts given most such work is in Scottish waters and the dramatic impact on the Scottish economy.”
The vast majority of Scots – around 67% – want powers over N. Sea oil taxation to be devolved to the Scottish Government from Westminster, according to the latest opinion polls.
The call from the IoD comes as Prime Minister David Cameron is today expected in Scotland as his Government publishes its plan for taking forward the Smith proposals, which were published last November.
Last night, a spokesman at No. 10 Downing Street said: “In September 2014 the people of Scotland made a historic decision to retain the security and the benefits of the United Kingdom whilst welcoming new powers for Scotland.
“This week will mark a significant milestone in the UK Government’s commitment to deliver those powers. The UK Government will meet its promise to publish draft legislation by Burns Night 2015 (25 January) following publication of the Smith Commission report.”
“Immediately after Scotland’s independence referendum, the Prime Minister asked Lord Smith of Kelvin to establish a cross-party Commission to consider further powers for Scotland. On 27 November, Lord Smith published the Smith Commission Agreement reached between the five main political parties in Scotland. His report drew on the input of over 400 submissions from organisations and groups and over 18,000 submissions from people across Scotland.
“Following today’s publication, work will continue to prepare the draft legislation for introduction to Parliament. The main Westminster parties have each committed to introducing a Scotland Bill early in the new Parliament, following the UK general election”.
Meanwhile, John Swinney, Deputy First Minister of Scotland, is to demand that the UK Government’s proposals for more powers for Scotland – expected to be published today – ‘must deliver’ the recommendations of the Smith Commission in full.
He said: “The proposals which Mr Cameron publishes today must live up to the word and spirit of the Smith Commission. Scotland should not – and will not – accept anything less.”