Alex Salmond to meet senior members of UK government

Alex Salmond
Image caption Mr Salmond will argue that the oil tax hike will impact on the Scots economy

First Minister Alex Salmond will argue for an alternative to the recent North Sea oil tax hike when he meets senior members of the UK government this week.

He will outline the impact of £2bn in taxes with Chancellor George Osborne.

In other meetings, Mr Salmond will discuss the electricity market, the fossil fuel levy and the Scotland Bill.

A spokesman for the first minister said the meetings, scheduled so soon after the election, proved the UK government was taking the SNP seriously.

In his first meeting on Monday, Mr Salmond will emphasise the importance of North Sea oil for jobs and investment in Scotland.

Oil & Gas UK, the trade association representing the offshore sector, has said the tax rise, announced in the Budget in March, will cost the industry as much as £50bn over the next 10 years.

A spokesman for Mr Salmond said there was widespread opposition to the move, which had "already put investment and job creation in this vital industry at risk".

"This year the Treasury is set to rake in an all-time record £13.4bn in North Sea revenues - £2,700 for every man, woman and child in Scotland," he said.

"Instead of simply regarding Scottish oil as a cash cow, the Tory-Lib Dem government must realise how important our offshore industry is for jobs across Scotland and for the economy of the north east in particular."

The first minister will also meet Energy Secretary Chris Huhne and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg during his visit.

The Scotland Office said it expected "a very positive series of meetings".

Historic opportunity

A spokesman said: "The Secretary of State made clear in his last meeting with Alex Salmond that it is now up to the Scottish government to produce a detailed objective case for the powers it is asking for in the Scotland Bill.

"That is true for each of the issues and we look forward to receiving that in due course.

"The Treasury made a decision to help motorists with the price of petrol at the last budget. To do so it taxed a portion of the unexpected profits created by rising oil prices and has since held a number of meetings with the industry to explain that decision."

He added: "The Treasury also made a workable offer on the fossil fuel levy in the comprehensive spending review which the Scottish government has been able to access at any point since.

"This was the first administration to find a way to release the levy, giving the Scottish government a historic opportunity to invest in our renewables future."

The first meeting of the Scottish government's Cabinet in the new parliament will meet in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

The new Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland will also attend, and will present proposals to tackle sectarianism which will form the basis of new legislation to be brought to parliament, with the aim of passing a bill before the recess.

A spokesman for Mr Salmond said: "We are determined that the authorities have the powers they need to clamp down effectively on bigotry peddled online.

"That's why the Scottish government will bring forward legislation to make such online behaviour, including posts on sites like Facebook and Twitter, an indictable offence with a maximum punishment of five years in jail.

"In addition, threatening and abusive behaviour inside a football ground would similarly become an indictable offence, again with prison sentences of up to five years available to the courts for anyone found guilty."

He added: "We hope that as many MSPs as possible, from across the political spectrum, will agree to pass these new laws when the legislation comes before Holyrood, so that we send as strong a signal as possible that our national parliament is determined to stamp out this sort of behaviour once and for all."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites