The SNP has challenged opposition politicians on claims that the value of oil was not downplayed by Westminster government. 

Quotes from previous Labour and Tory politicians demonstrate how the value of Scotland’s oil was underplayed throughout the 1970s and follow the comments from Dennis Healey last week and the previous revelations in the McCrone report. 

Former Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan estimated “total revenue yield from the North Sea, including gas, will approach £4bn a year by the mid-1980s”. In reality by 1985 the revenue was three times estimated at just over £12billion. 

Former Tory MP Patrick Jenkin estimated oil revenue in 1980 would be £1.9bn - in reality it was £2.3bn. 

And Tony Benn – then Labour MP for Bristol South East also estimated it would generate £2billion to £3billion a year from 1980. In fact it generated £2.3bn, £3.7bn, £6.4bn, £7.8bn and £8.7bn a year from 1980-1984.

Commenting, SNP MSP Maureen Watt said: 

“I challenge the Tories to show exactly how the value of oil was not downplayed during the 1970s. 

“In reality they are just digging themselves further into a hole. The comments made by former Labour and Tory politicians during the 1970s clearly demonstrate how much the value of Scotland’s oil was underplayed. 

“Former PM James Callaghan downplayed the value of oil so much that in fact the amount generated was three times as much as he forecast. 

“The Tories have been backed into a corner by Denis Healey’s revelations last week that the Treasury hid the truth about the value and longevity of Scotland's oil and gas resources in the 1970s. 

“They have been forced to defend the indefensible by saying oil forecasts weren’t downplayed – it is becoming clearer every day why we cannot trust a word they say. 

“Their desperation to refute the claim says everything about how sensitive they are - with good reason – to the suggestion they, and other Westminster governments, do not act in Scotland's best interests.

“In reality, the Scottish Government’s oil forecasts are in line with the industry’s – personally I would trust the forecasts of those working in the industry rather than those of a UK government that, as Lord Healey says, is “worried stiff” about Scots voting Yes because of the valuable income from the North Sea. 

“Scotland's finances are consistently stronger than the UK's, over half of the North Sea tax revenues are still to come, and our oil and gas assets are worth £1.5 trillion or even more. 

"But of course, it's a complete myth to say that we are reliant on oil. Scotland's economic output is almost identical that of the rest of the UK without oil. 

“We have seen an historic 30-year high in investment in our oil and gas industry, with £11.4billion invested last year – expected to rise to at least £13bn this year. 

"Only a Yes vote next September gives Scotland the opportunity to make the next four decades of oil and gas work for our country and for future generations.”

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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