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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 December 2005, 11:00 GMT
Chancellor defends oil tax move
The tax move follows rising oil prices
Gordon Brown has been defending his move to double the tax levied on North Sea oil producers.

The chancellor has increased the supplementary charge on company profits from 10% to 20%, raising 2.3bn a year for the Treasury.

Mr Brown said projected oil prices and returns over the next few years mean the companies could afford the rise.

But the Scottish National Party claimed the move could impact on thousands of Scottish jobs.

Mr Brown told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "What we have done is increase the incentives for future investment, particularly in the smaller fields in the North Sea.

Balance move

"But at the same time we recognised that in striking the balance between consumers and producers, consumers need more money returned to them.

"And that's why I've put the 10% tax on the oil companies."

But Mr Salmond said the chancellor's "smash and grab raid" could jeopardise employment in the industry.

People are now going to look at opportunities elsewhere and be more attracted by them
Steve Harris

He said: "I don't mind oil companies being taxed, what I mind is that might happen at the expense of thousands of Scottish jobs in the future.

"I keep hearing the chancellor talking about the longest period of economic growth for 200 years - except in his own constituency of Kirkcaldy, where there's been three successive quarters of downturn since Labour were elected in 1997."

He said the Treasury's 2bn taxation plans amounted to 1 of incentive for every 399 worth of tax.

Steve Harris, of the UK Offshore Operators Association, warned that investment in the North Sea would be hit across the board.

He said: "People are now going to look at opportunities elsewhere and be more attracted by them."

Listen to the chancellor's oil tax plans

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