Debates between Douglas Ross and Dave Doogan during the 2019 Parliament

Tue 20th Feb 2024
Tue 16th May 2023
Tue 13th Oct 2020
Fisheries Bill [Lords]
Commons Chamber

Report stage & 3rd reading & Report stage & 3rd reading & 3rd reading & 3rd reading: House of Commons & Report stage & Report stage: House of Commons
Mon 27th Jan 2020

Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill

Debate between Douglas Ross and Dave Doogan
Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
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I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. She touches on some of the key elements that I will address in this speech.

In order to salvage some semblance of responsibility and/or equity from this Bill, I urge Members to support the SNP’s amendments. They seek to amend the provisions to facilitate licence issuance on a case-by-case basis, rather than it being done annually and by prescription. That is a reasonable improvement to the Bill by any measure. We would also like to incorporate a real test for new issuance that would require the North Sea Transition Authority to assess whether new licences will: lower energy bills for bill payers; deliver energy security and reduce reliance on imported fuel sources for domestic consumption; enhance sustained job security for the oil and gas workforce in areas of the UK that are economically reliant on the oil and gas sector; guarantee funding for domestic refineries to increase capacity to process sustainable fuel sources; and stimulate the North sea oil and gas sector to meet commitments set out in the North sea transition deal.

The SNP also wishes to ensure that, henceforth, 100% of tax revenues from oil and gas are invested in the just transition. A “just transition” test would have to be met for any given relevant year, under which the NSTA would issue new licences only if it assesses that: they will support the delivery of the North sea transition deal’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets of 10% by 2025, 25% by 2027 and 50% by 2030 against a 2018 baseline, in order to meet the sector’s aim of a net zero basin by 2050; and the Secretary of State has provided funding to support the development of the renewable energy sector in areas of the UK that are economically dependent on the oil and gas sector, equivalent to tax revenues collected from UK oil and gas production. That amendment means that new licences cannot be issued unless it can be shown that the licence will meet the North sea transition deal’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and unless the UK Government are funding the renewables sector in oil and gas dependent areas to at least the value of oil and gas revenues.

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross (Moray) (Con)
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The hon. Gentleman is speaking about conditions for granting new licences, but the SNP’s draft energy strategy includes a presumption against any new licences—is that his position? Is the SNP’s position that there should be no new licences for oil and gas exploration?

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that. It is lovely to see him in his place; we know that he is a busy man with his other two jobs. I am sure that Hansard will correct me if my memory does not serve me correctly, but I believe that we rehearsed this issue on Second Reading. Let me point out to the hon. Gentleman, who I am certain is an ardent Unionist, that the position of the devolved Government, and whoever they are, is irrelevant in debating what we do with oil and gas licences in the UK because, sadly, Scotland’s oil and gas endowment, as he well knows—he makes excuses for this regularly—is controlled remotely by a dysfunctional UK Government, whoever they are. So the point is moot.

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
- Hansard - -

Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to intervene, just to provide clarity?

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

No, I will not.

The last SNP amendment will prevent this Government and the soon-to-be-installed Labour Government from simply using Scotland’s North sea oil and gas revenues to fund tax cuts in the UK, a state that is demonstrably not paying its way in the world. Both Labour and Tory —two cheeks of the same face, where Scotland is concerned —will sacrifice Scotland’s economic, industrial and material welfare, and those working in the energy sector, if it will win them a few more seats in this place. They have done it before and they will do it again while we remain in this broken and discredited Union. The prosperity that comes from oil and gas in Scotland is finite.

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Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
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I am not going to meet the hon. Gentleman’s ambition to nail those colours to the mast, but I will tell him that through the Bill, the UK Government are turning a blind eye to the implications of a free-for-all when it comes to emissions and who benefits from revenue receipts. I am sorry if he finds that difficult, but he will to have to deal with it.

The prosperity that comes from oil and gas in Scotland is finite, as we know all too well. We have seen what deindustrialisation with no transition plan looks like—we witnessed it at first hand in the 1980s, when coal, steel and heavy industries were all torn asunder on the altar of monetarism and share prices in the City of London. That is set to happen again for oil and gas, under Thatcher’s willing disciples, the Leader of the Labour party and the Prime Minister. We cannot allow that to happen again. It is therefore essential that north-east Scotland and other areas reliant on oil and gas are afforded the investment required. That is what our amendment speaks to; it is about creating new jobs and transitioning in a managed, strategic fashion to accelerate our post-carbon future.

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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On that point, will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
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No.

That is a just ambition for a just transition. The billions of pounds still to be yielded from oil and gas revenue must not be wasted on doomed capital infrastructure projects, such as HS2, or used to fund exorbitant false economies, such as nuclear power stations in England. It is a moral and economic imperative that revenue be used to accelerate a genuine just transition, to protect jobs.

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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In response to my previous intervention, the hon. Gentleman said that the Scottish National party position on this issue was “irrelevant”, but of course it is not; it is vitally important. The SNP’s draft energy strategy says there is a presumption against new exploration for oil and gas. Does he support that?

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That question speaks to a mis-representation. There is no point in giving way to the hon. Gentleman if he is going to misrepresent me in that way. What I actually said was that it does not matter who is in government in a devolved Assembly where energy policy is decided by remote control from a dysfunctional Westminster Government. That is the beginning and the end of it. If the hon. Gentleman does not like it, then he is welcome to join the SNP—well, perhaps not.

We know the facts on the ground: the oil and gas sector is in decline because of finite reserves, and because it is to be considered an industry with a limited future, whereas the green transition has an unlimited future. Jobs have already decreased in the sector. Government Members are giving the impression that with unlimited licensing there will be unlimited jobs, but that is not the case. Jobs have decreased by 228,000 since 2013, despite 400 new drilling licences in five separate auction rounds. Production of gas in the North sea has already fallen by two thirds since 2000 and will fall a further 95% with new licences, as opposed to 97% without.

The issuance of new licences in and of itself will not shift the dial, especially if the revenues from Scottish oil and gas continue to disappear into the black hole that is the Treasury. What is needed is a wholesale redistribution of fiscal receipts from Scottish oil and gas to the renewable transition, ringfenced and guaranteed by statute. In Scotland, we are apt to wonder what we got for the £300 billion in tax receipts from Scotland’s oil—a question now being mirrored for our renewable endowment.

I note that Members on the Government Benches have desisted from repeating the nonsense that energy bills will be lowered if we grant unlimited licences—and not before time. What will lower bills is ensuring that the renewable energy we generate can find its way to consumers without needing to be turned off because the grid cannot cope after 14 years of non-investment by the Tories. New grid infrastructure will lower bills by dialling gas out of the system. Government Members talk about the relentless need for more and more gas, as if that does not speak to a flaky ambition on a just transition; it exposes it and lays it bare. We will dial gas out of the system by having a network that can connect Scotland’s renewable energy to the market where that is required, and we will do so with proper investment in sub-sea lines, rather than by scarring Scotland with 80-metre pylons. It is a pity that the UK Government would not invest the billions that they are ploughing into nuclear into environmentally optimal grid improvements, instead of defaulting to pylons and overhead lines.

The Bill is part of an ill-fated Tory miscalculation on making a just transition a wedge issue. We know that, because the Bill is a non-existent solution to a non-existent problem. Some 27 new licences were granted in 2023, and a licensing round has been held by the North Sea Transition Authority every year and a half since 2016. If the Bill is the answer, then I am not certain what the question is. It undermines the independence of the NSTA by forcing it to hold new oil licensing rounds every year, whereas currently the NSTA undertakes licensing rounds when it deems that they are required. It is a challenge so unwelcome that the NSTA board unanimously agreed that this legislation and the annual licensing rounds were unnecessary. This is what happens when the energy sector, so vital to a broad-based, developed economy like Scotland’s, is subject to remote control.

Renewables already account for the equivalent of 113% of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption, yet we still pay sky-high energy bills because of the amount of gas required for generation in England, due in no small part to the Tories small-minded hysteria surrounding onshore wind, and their 10-year-old ban on development of onshore. Investing further in the green hydrogen sector in Scotland could support up to 300,000 jobs—it is a pity that Members on the Government Benches will not focus on that opportunity—and it would add up to £25 billion to Scotland’s gross value added by 2045. Further development of our renewable sector represents an extraordinary export opportunity for Scotland—one that we must grab much more, instead of looking back; we should look to the enterprises of the future.

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Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross (Moray) (Con)
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It has been interesting following the process of this Bill. I spoke on Second Reading, and I sat through most of the Committee today, and I am pleased to speak on Third Reading to support the proposals brought forward by this UK Conservative Government—the only party supporting our vital oil and gas industry across the United Kingdom, and particularly in the north of Scotland. My constituents in Moray, many of whom work in the oil and gas industry, will be shocked and annoyed by what we have heard today from those on the SNP Benches and by the deeply disappointing remarks we have just heard from the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Dr Whitehead) on the Labour Front Bench. If he thinks that “misinformed scaremongering” from Offshore Energies UK and from Aberdeen chamber of commerce does not deserve to be raised in this Chamber, he is gravely wrong. I think it is an indication of Labour’s position. It has already turned its back on the oil and gas industry in Scotland, and by the sound of things it will only get worse. [Interruption.] He is looking quizzical, but let us just look at what is happening in Scotland now and at some of the coverage.

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is a regular reader of The Press and Journal, but its front page made clear what people in the north-east of Scotland think about Labour’s proposals. The Scottish Sun said that people in Scotland could wave goodbye to tens of thousands of jobs. That is not the papers or the Opposition just saying that; it is papers reporting what experts in the field are saying. We know that the Labour party changes its policies quickly, and I can only hope this is another of those, because its actions are having a deeply damaging effect. Were these policies ever implemented, they would have a huge impact on the oil and gas sector and the people who work in it and rely on that oil and gas production. Tens of thousands of jobs and livelihoods are at risk.

As we often want to articulate our own views in this Chamber, I think it is only right that we repeat some of the concerns raised by the industry. Offshore Energies UK’s chief executive Dave Whitehouse is someone who must be listened to on this subject. I met him recently on a visit to Aberdeen. He said that Labour’s proposals

“would deliver a hammer blow to the energy we need today and to the homegrown transition”.

He also said:

“These are not faceless numbers but decent, hardworking people working across the UK to provide the energy we will need today and in the future.”

That is an expert view on the Labour proposals.

Aberdeen chamber of commerce has described Labour’s plans as a “betrayal”. Chris Wheaton, an oil and gas analyst, said:

“The uncertainty created by threatening new windfall taxes is as bad as the tax itself.”

Perhaps most powerfully of all, last week, more than 800 individuals, firms and trade groups wrote to the Leader of the Opposition to express their deep concerns about what is being spoken about by the Labour party.

Sadly, in Scotland, we cannot get a cigarette paper between the Labour party and the SNP. It is almost as if they are in a race to decimate our oil and gas industry and want to outmanoeuvre each other. Both support a windfall tax. Both oppose the Rosebank field. Both are speaking about dangerous proposals—[Interruption.] Liberal Democrat Members think that is funny. I am sorry, but I do not think it is funny that tens of thousands of jobs across Scotland are under threat. I take that issue extremely seriously.

Speaking about the SNP, I tried to get this out on Second Reading and in Committee. I am delighted that the hon. Member for Angus (Dave Doogan) is still in his place, because we have to get to the bottom of this. I ask him to intervene on me and explain whether he, as the MP for Angus, representing a north-east constituency, believes further licences should or should not be granted for production of oil and gas in the North sea.

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I do not know about you, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I have just about heard enough from the hon. Member today. For the fourth time, Government Members’ association between the number of licences issued and the number of oil and gas jobs protected is specious at best. We have been accused by them—including, I think, the hon. Member—of wanting to put the oil and gas industry in Scotland to the sword. There is no such plan. The leader of the SNP and Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf was in Aberdeen just yesterday talking about how Scottish oil and gas workers must never be left behind.

I am disappointed in the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (David Duguid)—I thought more of him—misquoting Humza Yousaf, who said that he would rather Aberdeen was not the oil and gas capital of Europe but the renewable energy capital of the world. That promises vastly more economic opportunity for workers in Scotland. Government Members had better start dealing with that.

Nigel Evans Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans)
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Order. I remind Members that this is a Third Reading and that we should not be reopening arguments that were heard in Committee or previous stages.

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Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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That is just one example of the mixed and confused messaging from the SNP which, sadly, we hear far too much in this Chamber. We have heard it across the north-east this week and it has dominated much of our proceedings.

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
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Will the hon. Member give way?

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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I will, because this may be our final chance to hear if the hon. Gentleman believes in the SNP’s draft energy strategy, which included a presumption against licences for new oil and gas exploration.

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
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As much as I am enjoying the hon. Member’s crocodile tears about protecting jobs in Scotland, I wonder if he could give confidence to those oil and gas workers in Scotland by highlighting an example from recent history when the Tories have protected anyone’s job anywhere?

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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It is only this UK Conservative Government and the Scottish Conservatives at Holyrood who are standing up for an industry that supports more than 200,000 people across the United Kingdom and 95,000 people in Scotland. We have heard that 42,000 jobs are at risk under the Labour proposals, which are almost identical to those of the SNP.

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Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
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The Bill is completely lacking in merit. It seeks to solve a problem that does not exist. The North Sea Transition Authority can issue licences, and it has been doing so. This is a Potemkin argument; a specious debate about the issuance or otherwise of licences. When this Bill passes, which it will given the arithmetic in this House, it will change not one jot the ability to issue licences or otherwise. What it seeks to do is put on a pedestal and create conflict in what was previously broad consensus about the need for a just transition to combat a climate emergency.

In the tone and tenor of the debate today, Government Members in particular have shown a desire to weaponise that. We just heard from the hon. Member for Moray (Douglas Ross), who said in his summing up that only the Conservatives are standing up—absolute and utter nonsense, although if I was working in oil and gas, I would not want to rely too heavily on Labour, if its £28 billion plan is anything to go by. It could have included measures to offset the rapacious appetite for more and more licences to drill for every drop of oil and gas within the North sea basin and receipt every available ha’penny of tax into His Majesty’s Treasury. It could have done those things, and chucked a little bit over the wall to say, “But we’re going to put 5%, 10% or 15% of all those revenues directly into the just transition.” That would not have been brilliant, but it would have been something. But no—there is not a thing in this legislation to offset the appetite for further and further investment.

Government Members have spoken at length about the need to ensure that we do not develop a gap between that which we demand and that which we can supply—it has already passed; the UK can no longer sustain its own demand. We have to import oil and gas from elsewhere. But that is a myopic obsession with the supply side. There is not nearly enough being done by the Government after 14 years to mitigate the demand side. Supply is a function of demand; the be supply requirements are such as a result of that which is being demanded. If there had been a truly ambitious programme at any stage over the past 14 years to insulate houses, get people into electric vehicles and introduce further decarbonisation of our economies and lifestyles, we would not have the demand that we have now. The potential gap between that which can supplied domestically and that which has to be imported would inevitably be less in a zero-sum game. However, we do not have any of that.

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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I will not go over an issue that I am not going to get an answer to. However, the hon. Gentleman’s own party has been in government in Scotland for 17 years now, and the Scottish Government have repeatedly missed their own climate change targets, largely because they have not done what he is accusing the UK Government of not doing. How does he reflect on his own party and Government in Scotland who have not done enough to insulate homes, get more people into electric vehicles and put in the charging points that we need across the country?

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
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Not for the first time, the hon. Gentleman has stood on a political landmine if he thinks he is going to hold me to account on the availability of charge points. What he may not know—although, knowing him, I suspect he probably does—is that someone wanting to find anywhere on these islands with more vehicle charge points than Scotland would need to come to London or the south-east of England. Scotland has many more available charge points for electric vehicles—

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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Rubbish!

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
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Well, we can sort this out later. Scotland has the third highest availability of electric vehicle chargers of all geographical areas in the United Kingdom. I think the Scottish Government’s record is exemplary—having, as we do, one hand tied behind our back due to being a member of this non-Union, with the freedom of movement and zero agency that comes from being a non-sovereign state. Any other normal country could invest into whatever it wants, and could do so using the normal levers that an independent country would have. Scotland, of course, cannot do that because it must wait for its cheque every year from Westminster. If the hon. Member for Moray (Douglas Ross) does not like that, he knows what to do.

I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (David Duguid) for the work he did in finally grinding out some progress from his partners and colleagues in government on the Acorn project, but that just typifies the slowness—the absolute pedestrian nature—of measures to protect consumers and the environment from the largest possible demand. If we had gone into that with a proper fund and with ambition and pace five, six or seven years ago, we would not be in this situation now.

The SNP’s amendment proposed an elegant solution to invest the additional receipts from oil and gas extraction in the North sea basin directly into the renewable transition, protecting people from higher bills, insulating their homes and getting them out of their petrol and diesel cars and into electric cars. As we saw in the Prime Minister’s rolling back on heat pumps and electric vehicles—a further weaponisation of the climate emergency—that is not on the agenda of this fag end Tory Government. They are trying to scrabble around looking for votes, but that does not work. They have achieved tremendous damage with that approach and judging by recent by-election results they have gained zero political capital. On the mess that is evident before us—[Interruption.]—while I get heckled by the hon. Member for Moray, I and my SNP colleagues urge Members to decline the Bill a Third Reading.

Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill

Debate between Douglas Ross and Dave Doogan
2nd reading
Monday 22nd January 2024

(3 months, 4 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill 2023-24 View all Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill 2023-24 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The premise of the hon. Gentleman’s intervention is that by delaying things, and maximising oil and gas production, we somehow maintain this link. We could just as easily deliver the same thing by accelerating the delivery of renewable energy and the infrastructure to transmit it to where it is needed. That would have the added benefit of introducing lower bills for consumers and industry, and making sure that we are not reliant on petrostates from far away with questionable regimes. I am looking through the right end of the telescope, whereas the hon. Gentleman and his Government are looking through the wrong end.

In short, the Tories could not give a flying fig for any worker on these islands—as long as their share price remains healthy, to hang with the rest of us. If the question is “How do we protect and transition oil and gas jobs into renewable energy production?”, the answer is definitely not to overstimulate unlimited offshore petroleum licensing. According to industry data, 441,000 jobs were supported by the oil and gas sector in 2013, but that number has already fallen to 215,000—so we are talking about 200,000 fewer jobs in 2022. The Government have issued approximately 400 new drilling licences, in five separate licensing rounds, in that period. The claim that there is a direct and proportionate relationship between the amount of licences issued and the amount of jobs sustained is entirely spurious.

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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Can the hon. Gentleman explain to the House and, importantly, his constituents in Angus, many of whom are employed in the industry, what the Scottish National party’s current position is on the issuing of new oil and gas licences? At the moment, does it support them? Or is there is a presumption against them?

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Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
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What is important is the understanding that we will be reliant on oil and gas. This Government are creating a false dichotomy between having unlimited new licences and having an oil and gas sector in Scottish waters and within the UK; the two things are not related in the fashion that they are setting out. The hon. Gentleman should be asking why the UK Government will not match the Scottish Government’s ambition for the just transition and our half a billion-pounds of investment, but I will get on to that in a second.

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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rose

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
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Is the hon. Gentleman asking whether I am giving way?

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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For clarity—

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

No, I am not.

Where is the guaranteed ringfencing of revenues from North sea oil and gas production to develop more renewable energy and accelerate the just transition? Accelerating the just transition—not unduly sustaining legacy energy production—will make the difference and deliver real jobs with sustainability, in terms of both the carbon outputs and how those jobs will last into the future. Where is that support?

The Government have claimed that the circa £50 billion in tax revenue over the next five years “could” be used to support the shift to cleaner forms of energy—we are used to jam tomorrow from this Government—but any other form of fiscal revenue could be used to support the future development of renewables. The vacuous observation that the Government have made is so unconnected to reality, unconditioned and unqualified as to be meaningless.

It would have been an uncharacteristically elegant solution for this Government to have ringfenced future oil and gas revenue for the green transition, to marry the endowment of the legacy hydrocarbon industry to the priming of the pump of opportunities of the next renewable industry, but this Government are at least consistent in their ability to disappoint.

To the casualty of the climate from this Bill, which is an inevitable consequence of this course of action, we can add the pace of delivery for the new net zero economy opportunities in Scotland. When oil and gas opportunities go to a plateau of exhaustion in Scotland, as everyone knows they will, what will be left in the cupboard to support communities such as those in Banff and Buchan, Angus, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, and elsewhere in the north-east of Scotland? Why are the revenues from the historical exploitation of oil and gas not going into accelerating renewable opportunities and making sure that we deliver jobs for the future?

As I said in response to the intervention by the hon. Member for Moray (Douglas Ross), the Scottish Government have invested £500 million into the green transition for Scotland—[Interruption.] Well, unlike anything to do with this Bill, that funding is allocated and is there to be invested. I will tell you why, Mr Deputy Speaker, this Government are nervous of that figure: because if the UK were to match Scotland’s ambition in the just transition, it would be £5 billion across the UK, but we see no such commitment, vision or climate ambition. What we see is a Tory Prime Minister who cannot effectively lead his party, let alone the UK state or an energy transition, seeking to divide people on the climate, and rolling back on climate action commitments and signals given to industry on electric vehicles and boiler replacements, while over-exploiting Scotland’s legacy hydrocarbons and dragging his feet on carbon capture, usage and storage, especially Acorn.

The picture is revealed even for those with the largest blinkers. The hallmark of failure is stamped on this Tory Government, who will politicise anything, even the climate consensus, in a vain attempt to stem their electoral destruction. The Bill fails to outline a transition away from fossil fuels as per the agreed resolution at COP28, on which the ink is barely dry. The UK delegation signed up to that agreement in the full knowledge of this Bill’s impending passage. We all know that the UK has a questionable approach to its international obligations, but this is plain bad faith.

Finally, the Bill does not acknowledge the climate emergency. In fact, with this Bill the Tory Government are thumbing their noses at the climate challenge that we all face together and should address together. In the Bill, the Government seek to over-capitalise on legacy energy production rather than invest in the renewable energy jobs of the future. Much of that employment and enterprise will be in demand mitigation, with thermal insulation, equipment upgrades and new technologies. As a result of the ambition that drives the Bill and the warped thinking behind it, jobs, the economy, bill payers and the climate will suffer, so I urge Members to decline to give it a Second Reading.

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Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for this opportunity to reiterate what I said previously. There is a fundamental understanding of the ongoing role of oil and gas in meeting our energy needs. Whether that is dealt with and satisfied through existing licences or future licences is a moot point, and I will tell him why: I have already demonstrated, in as simple terms as I can, that the implication that there is a direct and proportional link between job security and licences issued is spurious. I am aware of the point he is trying to make, but he is not making it well. I have told him what the situation is, and he can either like it or lump it.

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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I would just like an answer. I have tried twice, and that was as clear as mud. I think people looking at that answer will actually be unable to tell what the hon. Gentleman’s personal position is and what the SNP’s position is. That is really important. Maybe it is telling that only one SNP MP has turned up to a debate about the oil and gas sector—

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
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Have you seen the weather?

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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I have seen the weather. I saw the weather when I left Inverness airport at 6.45 this morning. I know what the weather is like in Scotland, but it is important that when we are debating the oil and gas industry, which is crucial to Scotland and the United Kingdom, the SNP can find only one MP to turn up.

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Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. We have a base at Buckie harbour that is supporting a number of jobs and will continue to do so for decades to come—it is a small number of jobs at the moment, with opportunities to grow—but at the moment the vast majority of the workforce is employed in the oil and gas sector. I agree with him that they will go elsewhere, shifting their jobs and expertise to other countries, and another city will become Europe’s offshore energy capital. That would be devastating not just for our net zero ambitions and for Aberdeen, but for the economy of Scotland and the UK as a whole.

We have already heard in the debate that 90,000 Scottish workers are employed in North sea oil and gas. It has been for decades, and will continue to be for some time to come, one of the most important sectors in Scotland’s economy. Yet I believe that it is the position of the SNP—it would be if more SNP Members than just the hon. Member for Angus had turned up to state their case—to put those jobs on the scrapheap. The SNP wants to have a cliff edge in our oil and gas sector and exploration because it is in government with the Greens in the Scottish Parliament. It is supporting Green Ministers who want an immediate end to the extraction of fossil fuels from the north-east, and that is putting those 90,000 jobs, and the Scottish and UK economies, at risk. That is viewed extremely dimly in many parts of Scotland, particularly the north-east, which the hon. Member for Angus represents.

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is a bit rich listening to a Scottish Tory MP talk about the bountiful experience of North sea oil and gas for Scotland. If we had been independent in the ’70s, we would be embarrassingly well off compared with our neighbours elsewhere in these islands. The hon. Member says that we want to throw workers in the oil and gas industry in Scotland under a bus, and that we want to see a “cliff edge” where those jobs disappear. What is his evidence for that? We are investing in a just transition. Whereas he is trying to pursue an endurance of legacy opportunities for employment, we want to turbocharge new opportunities for jobs over 150 to 200 years.

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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My evidence is very clear; in fact, it is the hon. Gentleman’s own words. When he cannot even tell this House or his constituents about the SNP’s position on the presumption of new oil and gas licences, that is an answer in itself—not a moot point. The SNP clearly does not support it, and he cannot quite find the words to say it yet. That is the SNP position because it is in office with the Greens in Holyrood, and they are increasingly abandoning the north-east oil and gas sector and the jobs that rely on it. As I say, that is viewed extremely dimly not just in the north-east but right across Scotland.

Cost of Living

Debate between Douglas Ross and Dave Doogan
Tuesday 16th May 2023

(1 year ago)

Commons Chamber
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Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan (Angus) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Poverty fuelled by the Tory cost of living crisis is a scourge on all communities. I am certain that right hon. and hon. Members across the Chamber have done their best to mitigate the effects of that Tory cost of living crisis and the poverty that it inflicts on constituents—that is, after all, what we are paid to do. That must be pretty awkward for those on the Government Benches, but I am sure that they do it. I see those effects as a constituency MP and I saw them before as a local councillor working to try to help people in the most difficult circumstances.

Most of us in this place will understand that education is the route out of poverty, but that is made all the harder when the macroeconomic position in which people find themselves is set up against them.

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
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I will, though I was not expecting to after 25 seconds.

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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The hon. Gentleman mentioned education. How does he view the defining mission that Nicola Sturgeon set to completely eradicate the attainment gap in Scotland? Was it a success or not?

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
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As much as it pains me, I credit the hon. Member with a little more wit than that. If he thinks that 300 years of this Union and its effect on the people of Scotland—particularly the poorest—can be eradicated in a decade, he is more naive than I thought. He likes rhetoric, but he is not so keen on facts. My colleagues in the Scottish Government are sighted on the challenges of closing the attainment gap and are doing the right thing by our young people, but real life is much harder than that.

What Governments can do—particularly constrained Governments such as that of my colleagues, who exist under the profoundly suboptimal circumstances of devolution—is pull on the levers of investment in education. The hon. Member for Moray (Douglas Ross) might like to know that the Scottish Government invests £1,758 per child in Scotland, compared with England’s £1,439. In Scotland, his constituents in Moray will enjoy a far higher teacher-pupil ratio than elsewhere in the United Kingdom. In Scotland, there are 7,573 teachers per 100,000, versus England’s 5,734 per 100,000. That is a substantial difference. He might be keen to know that, when a teacher qualifies in Scotland, they will attract a remuneration of £33,729, whereas their colleagues in England will be on £28,000.

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Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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The hon. Gentleman is speaking about access. What do his Angus fishermen think about the SNP-Green plans for highly protected marine areas taking 10% of Scottish waters away? Does he support them or does he agree with his Government’s policy?

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
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The nub of the hon. Gentleman’s question was whether I support the fishermen of Angus; I would have thought it was patently obviously that I do. In direct answer to his question about highly protected marine areas, the Scottish Government have been very clear—maybe he was down here, juggling jobs, when he should have been up in Scotland listening in his other job—that any community that does not wish to have a highly protected marine area will not have to be subject to it.

Fisheries Bill [Lords]

Debate between Douglas Ross and Dave Doogan
Report stage & 3rd reading & 3rd reading: House of Commons & Report stage: House of Commons
Tuesday 13th October 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Fisheries Act 2020 View all Fisheries Act 2020 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: Consideration of Bill Amendments as at 13 October 2020 - (13 Oct 2020)
Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross (Moray) (Con)
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I congratulate the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Carla Lockhart) on an excellent speech. She spoke on behalf of not just her constituency but fishermen across Northern Ireland. She put her case and their case across very well in the House tonight. I echo what my hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Scott Mann) said. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be in the Chamber tonight, as we debate such an important piece of legislation for our own constituencies, the communities we represent, the whole of Scotland and the United Kingdom. They are looking to this Parliament to finally take back control over our fishing industry. It has for too long been dominated by decisions in Brussels, rather than here in our Parliament in the United Kingdom.

This is very much a framework Bill. It is supported by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and it allows us to do far more back here in the House of Commons or in the devolved Administrations. This legislation and the proposals put forward by this UK Conservative Government respect devolution. It looks for and enhances the sustainability in our seas, but also the sustainability in our fishing communities. For so long—decades—fishing communities in Moray such as Cullen, Findochty, Buckie and Burghead have suffered from a reduction in fishing right across the country through the straitjacket of the common fisheries policy. It has done so much harm to our industries, which were crucial to towns and villages right across the country. Many of those areas have been decimated, but now we can start to build back again: build back our fishing industry, our fleet, our crews and our catches, and what they mean to individual communities, what they meant decades ago, and what we can do to revitalise those areas when this industry gets back up and running because of the legislation that this UK Government and this Parliament are looking at, debating and taking through now.

Positive as I am about the Bill, I have to pause for a moment and stop that positivity to discuss the contribution from the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock). [Interruption.] She laughs about her contribution. I wish I could laugh at it. I really wish I could find it funny. I watched part of her speech on the screens outwith the Chamber and, when I was able to come in, I listened to it further. Watching it on television I thought it was bad enough, and then I looked in. Sometimes we say things in the Chamber and we reflect, because we are not reading a pre-prepared, scripted speech, that maybe we could have said something different and put it a better way. I watched the end of the hon. Lady’s speech and she was reading it out. I thought, “What kind of individual sits at a computer and types such a bitter, twisted and misleading statement, reviews it”—I presume she writes it herself, but I cannot guarantee that—“and stands up in the Chamber of the House of Commons and reads out such a poorly crafted argument that does not represent what Scotland is looking for from this Bill and does not represent what fishing communities right around the country are looking for from this Bill?”

I do not believe the hon. Lady’s speech represents the Scottish National party position on this. If you listen to her, there is nothing good in the Bill being brought forward by this Government, but her own party in the Scottish Parliament has given a legislative consent motion for it. So just once I would ask her to look beyond her blinkered vision of separatism, assuming everything done in this UK Parliament is bad, and consider for a moment that the 1 million people in Scotland who backed Brexit and the almost 50% of voters in my Moray constituency who backed Brexit, might actually look at this as an opportunity—an opportunity for this UK Government to take control back from the European Union over fishing and devolve further to our devolved Administrations right across the country. She would do herself, her party and Scottish politics in general a service if she looked at that and that argument from a more positive angle just once—to look at the positivity, rather than always the negativity.

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan (Angus) (SNP)
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I think I heard the hon. Gentleman correctly when he said that there was almost 50% support for Brexit in his constituency, so he lost the Brexit argument in his constituency. Is that right?

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Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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The coastal communities on the coastline of Moray provide great opportunities for fishing in my constituency and, indeed, right around Scotland and the United Kingdom. In case I have potentially misled the House, I think there is some coastline in the hon. Lady’s constituency, so before the tweet goes out, I have corrected the record and I apologise for that. We all come to this House to represent our constituents and the areas for which we are elected in order put forward their views. I think it is right that the representative for Moray is able to outline how important this Bill is, and how important it is that the Lords amendments, which could cause some difficulties and troubles for the Bill, are not taken forward, because they would be wrong for the industry both in Moray and right across Scotland.

We have left the European Union. When we leave the transition period at the end of this year, we come out of the straitjacket of the common fisheries policy—the hated CFP that has done so much to damage our industry over the past 40 years. Our fishing communities have decided to leave the European Union and have voted to come out of the common fisheries policy. Why would the Scottish nationalists ever say that, having taken the decision to leave, we should go back into a policy that has done so much damage to our communities and to our industry? I relish the bright future that is ahead of us now with this Bill and look forward to developing it further with communities in Moray, right across Scotland, and across the UK. This is a positive time to be in the fishing industry. This is a positive Bill from the UK Government—one that will deliver right across the country and one that I am pleased to support.

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
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I am very happy to follow the hon. Member for Moray (Douglas Ross).

I am extremely fortunate to represent Angus, the garden of Scotland. Our bounty extends well beyond our exceptional farmland, over our cliffs, and into our abundant seas—the North sea. After all, we have in Arbroath the home of the Arbroath smokie—a taste sensation that I know for a fact the Minister regularly enjoys. Not only that, but in Ferryden and Arbroath harbours we have a thriving inshore fleet fishing creel for crab and lobsters primarily for the EU market. This is where my concern lies. The shellfish trade in Angus is an outstanding success story supporting many jobs and underpinning the thriving buzz in Arbroath and Ferryden harbours. These boats have little to gain from Brexit in their fishing operations, but much to lose if the Government will not or cannot secure a deal for unfettered and tariff- free access to their EU markets.

I remind Ministers that livelihoods and jobs depend on these last-minute negotiations, and fishing businesses, like any other, need clarity over future trading conditions. Even with a deal, fishermen from Angus exporting into the EU will be subject to a regime from 1 January that threatens cost and delay for their businesses. These burdens include the requirements for an export health certificate, a validated catch certificate sent to the importer hours before the lorry arrives, a storage document if the catch was stored, and a processing statement if the product has been treated. They must import their product through an EU border control post and the importer must be notified in advance of the arrival. Notification periods vary so they will need to check with the border control post in question to find out how much notice they can give.

This is a far cry from the seamless process undertaken currently by crews and hauliers supplying markets in the EU today. I seek the Minister’s assurance that due consideration will be given to those lorries loaded up with live catch from multiple vessels in respect of the effect of this new bureaucracy on my constituents in Angus.

There exists a seemingly simpler process for UK vessels landing directly into UK ports. They must land into a North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission-designated port with a prior notification form, a catch certificate and a pre-landing declaration. That is onerous, but not insurmountable. Direct landings into the EU should be seen as a sub-optimal opportunity. It seems clear that we need to secure as much value add in the commodification of marine product in Scotland, and the rest of the UK of course, as possible, thereby exporting a higher value product to market rather than exporting the unprocessed product to have the value added abroad. National landings will deliver that, and to that extent I have some sympathy with amendment 1 tabled by the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Barnsley East (Stephanie Peacock). However, as she will be aware, it is England-only so I will be unable to support it. I encourage the Minister, if not in this iteration of the Bill then in future policy, to consider the ambition of a national landing requirement. I know that that is an important element that all devolved Administrations will be taking forward.

We heard the hon. Member for Moray speak at length about the importance of coastal communities and reversing the attrition that was wrought on them in recent decades. This is an element that we may seek to exploit to achieve that. Ridding our fishing fleets of the thoroughly discredited CFP will of course have an upside for crews and skippers, but we need to ensure that we are more ambitious than that. We need to maximise and disaggregate the dividend as far and as wide onshore as possible. To do so will benefit precisely those coastal communities that we have heard discussed earlier this evening, with consequential benefits to local services, driving greater investment through higher populations in rural schools, and increased use of transport and connectivity.

A new future based on zonal attachment holds much promise for our fleets and for the gross value of the industry going forward. This will do much to correct the basic fairness of access to marine harvest. We should feel duty bound to attach any new prosperity widely to coastal communities and exploit every opportunity to secure marketing, processing, fuel supplies, services, installation, plant sales and haulage jobs on these shores and in our coastal communities rather than elsewhere. This is not protectionism, it is pragmatism.

I understand very well the need to ensure the most profitable and expedient routes to market for crews, but let us be clear that the damage that Brexit will do to our broader economy and economic prosperity outside fishing will be severe and in so far as fishing will benefit from Brexit, the industry should maintain an obligation to support the onshore economy as much as possible in management, processing and the wider supply chain.

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. He just said that fishing would benefit from Brexit—those are the words that came out of his mouth, and I absolutely agree with that. Can he explain how fishing would benefit from the SNP policy, which is to go straight back into the European Union and the common fisheries policy?

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
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I am happy that the hon. Member for Moray is so quick to tell me what SNP policy is. Perhaps he will yield to my knowledge of such matters. I think I am probably on fairly solid ground as an SNP politician in saying what our policy is. I will be taking no lectures from a Conservative politician on how to access the EU in the interests of fishing. We have seen how badly it was done by the Conservatives in the early 1970s. We will not be making any similar mistakes with Scotland’s reaccession to the EU after independence, but I do not want to fall foul of Madam Deputy Speaker. 



Home landings have their limits, such as with the pelagic catch, which can be so vast and so rapid as to overwhelm the local capacity to process, and there can be no argument with that reality. However, the principle of shared benefit remains intact if domestic capacity is by default exhausted first. I am confident that my colleagues in the Scottish Government are sighted on the national landings priority. The best interests of our Scottish fleet in coastal communities will be served by that devolved Administration, but we should in all four nations work in support of this ambition as maritime neighbours, where we remain subject to the same jurisdiction.

Claim of Right for Scotland

Debate between Douglas Ross and Dave Doogan
Monday 27th January 2020

(4 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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I will give way to the hon. Gentleman who wrote that letter to Labour supporters.

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan (Angus) (SNP)
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I thank the Minister for giving way, particularly as he brings me into this debate. Yes indeed, we did write to non-SNP supporting members of the Angus electorate, and I am sure we did that elsewhere in Scotland. It was to invite them, notwithstanding their views on the constitution, to take a view on a more progressive way forward for the country of Scotland, and that is exactly the view that they took and I am pleased that we did that.

My hon. Friend the Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Patricia Gibson), who secured the debate, said very clearly in her excellent speech that not everybody in Scotland is persuaded of the case for independence, and there is not a single SNP MP on these Benches who is not on that page. However, we will not be swayed from our priority to ensure that the case for independence is aired as clearly and manifestly as possible. My hon. Friend made the case that devolution is not an event, it is a process. What will the Minister and his Government do when they run out of concessions to make—because it will be independence?

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman confirming in the House of Commons, so that it will be on the official record, that the SNP garnered votes at this most recent election on the pretence that it was nothing about independence—it was not supporting independence—but less than a month later we are here discussing constitutional issues, because it is all the SNP can bring forward.

I want to pick up on a number of points that the hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran made during her speech. She spoke about the absent Secretary of State for Scotland; I am just scanning around and I cannot see the shadow Secretary of State for Scotland anywhere in the Chamber either. The hon. Lady said that the people of Scotland have made their choice, and I agree; as the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber said at Prime Minister’s questions last week, the people of Scotland said no—the people of Scotland said no in 2014.

The hon. Lady said that that 2014 referendum on independence was won on the back of lies and mistruths. I wonder whether the lies and mistruths she is speaking about were in the White Paper that the SNP put forward—the White Paper that promised us oil at $100 a barrel and said that oil was going to pay for absolutely everything in Scotland. [Interruption.] Well, we are really getting animated now, but I will just try to finish my remarks—[Interruption.] We were told that the Scottish economy would be based on oil at $100 a barrel, and we were told that the referendum was a once-in-a-generation event. That is not rhetorical flourish, as some in the SNP would now like to say; that is written in black and white in the White Paper they put forward for independence. That was their model for separation and therefore—