Supporters of the motion believed the tax would take in vital resources for the government as fuel bills are predicted to skyrocket up to £2,000 per household in April. However, the Scottish National Party was the only one not to vote the windfall tax through, with one of their MP’s dismissing it as a “smash and grab” tax on the oil industry.
Labour’s debate yesterday, fronted by former party leader Ed Miliband, focused on the prospect of massive energy price rises.
The motion partly urged the UK Government to introduce a one-off tax on the profits of oil and gas producers in the North Sea.
SNP MPs made no effort to hide their scepticism about Labour’s proposals, despite the relief they may have provided to the growing cost of living crisis.
Stephen Flynn, SNP PM for Aberdeen South, said: “In relation to the specific proposal for a windfall tax put forward by the Labour party, what was missing from the contribution of the shadow Secretary of State and the Minister himself was the workers. What impact would it have on the workers?”
He also said of Mr Miliband: “He failed to recognise that the last time the UK Government implemented a windfall tax, 10 years or so ago, investment in the North sea oil and gas sector plummeted. It fell off a cliff; in fact, it has never got back to where it was.
“If that happens again, what does it mean? It means that my constituents will lose their jobs. Some 35,000 jobs have gone in the past couple of years alone.”
Richard Thomson, the SNP MP for Gordon, also criticised the plan, saying: “While we have heard many stories about the pressures facing our constituents—we have similar stories we can tell—I am sorry to say that I have not heard anything to persuade me why a one-off smash and grab on the North sea industry is the best way to deal with this crisis.
“Given our previous experience of windfall taxes and the impact they have had, we certainly have no confidence that a UK Government of any stripe can be trusted to use that windfall wisely. This measure is simply a short-termist one-off that will not tackle the fundamental problems.”
While the symbolic Labour motion was passed, SNP MPs did not vote.
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The SNP faces a difficult political situation regarding the oil and gas industry given their commitments to tackling climate change.
Seemingly in contradiction to the position of North East SNP MPs, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has publicly opposed the plan for the Cambo oil field near Shetland.
Labour MP Ian Murray said: “Despite their talk, when asked to back a plan to help hard working Scottish families with their spiralling energy bills, the SNP has chosen not to.
“Labour put down a motion in the House of Commons to back our plan for a one-off windfall tax on the excessive profits of the oil and gas companies, which we would spend on our fully costed plan to give Scots up to £600 off their energy bills, but the SNP didn’t show up to support it. Every other party bar the Tories backed the plan.
“Families across Scotland are already finding it harder and harder to cover their bills, with the spiralling cost of living, but SNP MPs were nowhere to be seen when it came to delivering support.”
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Annual CPI inflation rose to a 30-year-high in December, reaching 5.4 percent.
It is predicted to increase to seven percent in the spring.
This comes at the same time as the renewal of the energy price cap, which is estimated to increase fuel bills up to £2,000 per household.
This also coincides with a planned rise in National Insurance.
The SNP has been contacted for comment on their decision not to back the windfall tax on oil companies.