Oxford professor tells MSPs that devolving N. Sea tax revenues to Holyrood is ‘feasible and desirable’

Holyrood logoAn Oxford University professor yesterday told Holyrood MPs that devolving N. Sea oil and gas tax revenues to the Scottish Parliament is “perfectly feasible – as well as desirable”.

Giving evidence to MSPs at Holyrood’s Finance Committee Iain McLean, Professor of Politics at the University of Oxford, said:

“Devolving the whole of North Sea tax is perfectly feasible – as well as desirable – on the grounds which Adam Smith gave”. And he added it would ‘make sense’ for the licensing regime to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, along with tax.

“It would make sense that the one should go with the other as part of the overriding picture that tax and spend responsibilities should go together,” said Prof. McLean

Meanwhile, MPs on the Treasury Select Committee at Westminster were told that devolving N. Sea oil and gas revenues to Holyrood is a ‘good candidate for devolution’.

Giving evidence on fiscal issues Patrick Stevens (Chartered Institute of Taxation tax policy director) said: “What we’re most interested in is the administration of the taxes, and in that respect PRT probably is quite a good candidate for devolution…”

And Frank Haskew (head of tax at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) told the committee: “I think PRT is a tax that should be looks at in terms of devolution, because it does have at least one attribute which is quite important, which is that you can physically identify where the oil and gas is coming from.”

As revealed yesterday in Scottish Energy News, Community Energy Scotland has also called for Westminster power over Scottish renewable energy regulation to be devolved to Holyrood.

SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn, who sits on the Finance Committee in the Scottish Parliament, said last night: “It is only right that revenue from Scotland’s natural resources should be in Scotland’s pocket – and it is very encouraging to see a number of experts agree it makes sense for responsibility over oil tax to be devolved.  

“Polling consistently shows a majority of people in Scotland are in favour of having control of oil and gas revenue – with the most recent poll finding a 68% backing.

“A commitment to devolving powers over oil taxation and renewable energy would send a clear signal that Westminster is serious on further powers. Most importantly, powers over oil taxation would give Scotland more control over its own finances”.

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