The Scottish National Party has challenged the Chairman of the No campaign Alistair Darling to withdraw a false statement he made on BBC Good Morning Scotland today, when he said it "simply isn't true" that there are billions of pounds left of revenue from North Seal and gas. He said:
"Alex Salmond claimed there was… billions of pounds out there, which simply isn’t true."
The reality is that billions of pounds of North Sea revenues are generated each and every year, and even the UK Government forecasts tax revenues of £33.9 billion just in the years up to 2017/18. A recent Scottish Government analysis based on industry production forecasts estimated a mid-point of £48 billion of tax revenues up to 2017/18.
Mr Darling's false statement this morning would mean that total tax revenues in the decades to come are less than £2 billion!
Previously, Mr Darling said the amount of oil and gas left in the North Sea was only one-twelfth of the 24 billion barrels figure cited by the Scottish Government - suggesting a figure of just 2 billion barrels - even though the UK Government also cite the 24 billion figure, and Mr Darling himself has said there are over 20 billion barrels left.
In today's GMS interview, Mr Darling also referred to "Scottish Office Ministers" instead of the Scottish Government. There is no such thing as the Scottish Office any more, even in the UK Government.
Commenting, SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson who convenes the Finance Committee said:
"Alistair Darling's interview was a catalogue of errors and gaffes, but the most serious is that he denied there are billions of pounds worth of tax revenues left in the North Sea, which is arrant nonsense - even on the UK Government's own forecasts. In the coming six years alone, tens of billions of pounds of tax revenues will be generated from the North Sea, and Scotland's offshore industry will be generating wealth for decades to come.
"The only question is whether the people of Scotland will get the benefit by voting YES, or if the Westminster Treasury continues to grab the money.
"This isn't the first time Mr Darling has got his oil figures hopelessly wrong - he previously suggested there are only 2 billion barrels of oil and gas left, even though the UK Government cite the 24 billion barrels figure, and Mr Darling himself said there are more than 20 billion barrels left.
"Mr Darling will say anything to talk down Scotland's resources and abilities to be an independent country, no matter how absurd and factually incorrect. I am challenging him to accept that he has made basic blunders and withdraw his false statements in the interests of an informed and honest debate."