Fergus Ewing MSP

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Fergus Ewing MSP

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  • Member for: Inverness and Nairn
  • Region: Highlands and Islands
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Fergus is a member of the following Committees:

Fergus is a member of the following Cross-Party Groups:

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by Fergus Ewing

Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
The Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism (Fergus Ewing)

Will the member give way?



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Fergus Ewing

Is Mr McDonald aware that, during the 13 years of the Labour Party’s period as the United Kingdom Government, successive Labour Governments received in total in taxation from oil not £10 million but £93,000 million and that not one penny was set aside for Scotland, whether in a resilience fund or an oil fund?



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Fergus Ewing

Danny Alexander has suggested that most of, if not all, the Barnett consequentials should be spent on upgrading the A9 and the A96. Is that Liberal Democrat policy in Scotland?



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Fergus Ewing

Mr Chisholm always argues from principle, so on a point of principle, why is it that—given that the UK has for four decades been the recipient of all the £300,000 million of tax revenue—Scotland with its fixed budget for fixed functions, which do not include oil or energy, should have all the liability for setting up that fund?



Meeting of the Parliament 21 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Fergus Ewing

Can we cast aside partisan politics and agree that what the industry needs above all is the tax action on the basis of the measures that I set out in my statement to Parliament? Will the Labour Party specifically support those measures?



Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee 20 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 20, 2015
The Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism (Fergus Ewing)

I have no comments, convener.



Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee 20 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Fergus Ewing

I look forward to more meetings like this. [Laughter.]



Meeting of the Parliament 08 January 2015 : Thursday, January 08, 2015
The Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism (Fergus Ewing)

The oil and gas industry has been, is now and will continue to be an enormous asset to Scotland. It has contributed more than £300 billion in tax revenues to the United Kingdom and has turned Aberdeen into a global hub of innovation and engineering ingenuity.

With fields such as Clair and Mariner expected still to be producing beyond 2050, the sector will continue to operate for decades to come. Although the North Sea is a mature basin, there are also frontier regions such as the west of Shetland with huge prospects and a diverse range of development opportunities. However, the current fiscal regime is a barrier to such development.

In 2011, I asked industry and academia to help us devise a modern oil and gas strategy. That strategy set out a clear vision for the industry’s long-term future and it set priorities for future action. It has guided this Government in its actions in relation to its on-going support to the industry.

I will summarise the progress that has been made. First, on enterprise, Scottish Enterprise has already achieved the target set in the strategy to engage with an additional 100 oil and gas companies for account management in the period from 2012 to 2015. SE now has 344 oil and gas companies within its account management portfolio. In addition, Highlands and Islands Enterprise account manages more than 50 companies.

Secondly, on innovation, working with industry leaders such as Paul de Leeuw and Ian Phillips, as well as Professor Albert Rodger of the University of Aberdeen, we launched the oil and gas innovation centre in November 2014. The centre has £10 million of funding over five years, and it is already up and running, developing and delivering solutions to the key challenges that are faced by businesses.

Thirdly, on internationalisation, Scotland’s oil and gas supply chain is an international success story. Total international sales grew to £10,000 million—not £10 million but £10,000 million—in 2012-13. That is an increase of 22 per cent on the previous year. International activity now accounts for just over half of the total oil and gas supply chain sales.

Scotland is now an international hub for oilfield services. For example, we have led the way in areas such as subsea, safety, integrity and supply chain management, giving us a significant competitive industrial advantage. I have led two trade missions to Houston, and I am confident that, due to the support of Scottish Development International, SE and HIE, our supply chain companies are well placed to capture new high-value activity.

Fourthly, we continue to support skills development in the sector. The Scottish Government, Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council are all working with OPITO and the industry to deliver the immediate and long-term skills needs of the sector. Progress has been made with the establishment of energy skills Scotland and the publication of the energy skills investment plan, which is currently being refreshed and will be published in the coming weeks, taking account of the recent Ernst & Young report, “Fuelling the next generation: A study of the UK upstream oil and gas workforce”, and identifying key actions to be taken forward collaboratively by industry, academia and Government.

Fifthly, on infrastructure, the Scottish Government is targeting investment in local infrastructure in the Aberdeen area—city and shire. For example, the £745 million project to upgrade the Aberdeen western peripheral route will benefit communities and business and remove a serious impediment to economic growth in the area.

Sixthly, on decommissioning, we are committed to supporting infrastructure that will help offshore activity. For example, this Government and our agencies contributed £2.4 million to the nearly £12 million quayside project at Dales Voe South. That will enable Shetland to become a leading decommissioning hub.

I have summarised some of the measures that this Government has taken. We are making the best use of our devolved powers, and we continue to examine every further way in which we can possibly do more. However, it is crystal clear that it is the fiscal regime that needs to change, and the responsibility for that rests with the UK Government.

We have consistently called for a competitive, predictable and stable fiscal regime. In 2011 we published proposals that included the introduction of an investment allowance to help to mitigate the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s shock tax grab in which he raised the supplementary charge from 20 to 32 per cent.

In 2013 we published “Maximising the Return from Oil and Gas in an Independent Scotland” in which we set out the approach that we would take to stewardship. Following the publication of Sir Ian Wood’s interim report in 2013 and the Wood commission’s “Education Working For All! Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce Final Report” in 2014, we made clear our full support for his recommendations, which included the recommendation that a shadow body should be set up immediately. That did not happen.

We commissioned an independent expert commission to consider how best to maximise the value from the sector. It recommended that the Government consider the total contribution that the industry makes to the economy and society: the total value added. I sent the commission’s recommendations to the chancellor.

Today we have published a paper that sets out the fiscal changes that we believe are necessary to support investment, encourage exploration and ensure that the North Sea is a competitive investment location. That reflects the range of challenges such as declining production efficiency, rising costs and premature cessation of production.

First, we are calling for an investment allowance, as recommended previously by the Scottish Government in 2011 and by the expert commission in 2014. That will simplify the fiscal regime and potentially boost investment by between £20,000 million and £37,000 million.

Secondly, we are calling for a phased reversal of the increase in the supplementary charge alongside a clear timetable to provide clarity for investors. That will provide a strong signal to investors that the North Sea is open for business and could encourage more than £7,000 million of investment. Scottish Government analysis based on industry data shows that those measures can potentially support up to 26,000 jobs and 5,600 jobs respectively.

Thirdly, we are calling for an exploration tax credit. Exploration is already at an historically low level, and failure to address that will mean that we do not maximise the economic recovery of oil from the North Sea.

We will now consult stakeholders on those proposals, but I make it clear that speedy action from the UK Government on those areas is vital. Put simply, those measures must be delivered in the budget this March.

There is a long-term sustainable future for the North Sea, and the Scottish Government is committed to using every lever at our disposal. It is time for the UK Government to follow suit.



Meeting of the Parliament 08 January 2015 : Thursday, January 08, 2015
Fergus Ewing

Perhaps I could start with the resilience fund that has been mentioned. It is reasonable to say that Mr Murphy did not say how much the fund should be, so it is, as yet, an unspecified sum for unspecified beneficiaries from an unspecified source. If, in the little that he has said about this fund thus far, Mr Murphy is now a convert to an oil fund, we welcome that, no matter how late in the day.

It is important not to work ourselves up into a panic as Mr Macdonald seems so intent on doing. We should remember that, as he well knows, Aberdeen has been here before. The oil price went down to $10 in 1986 and 1999. More recently in 2007 and 2009 it was also as low as the $40 to $50 mark.

The price of oil fluctuates. We have always said that; we have always recognised that. None of us here controls the oil price any more than any of us here is able to predict the price. If we did, we would all be multimillionaires, would we not, Presiding Officer?

The fact is that Labour had 13 years in which to set up an oil fund. During that time, it had £93 billion of revenue from oil. That is three times as much as the annual Scottish Government budget and 10 times as much as was spent in Iraq, and Labour did not invest one bawbee. Meanwhile, back in 1999, when oil was $10 a barrel, Norway was just setting up its fund. How much is that fund worth now? Around £540 billion sterling.

There is a tale of two countries’ stewardship of an enormous and invaluable asset: the poor stewardship of successive Labour and Conservative Governments that has resulted in no oil fund; and the successful stewardship of a smaller country that has managed over that period to build up a fund that helps to stabilise their figures.

With respect, therefore, I do not think that the proposal for a resilience fund can be taken too seriously, especially as Jackie Baillie has not signed up to it. As the First Minister pointed out, in August this year, Jackie Baillie said:

“Setting up an oil fund will take money away from public services.”

What an utter shambles.



Meeting of the Parliament 08 January 2015 : Thursday, January 08, 2015
Fergus Ewing

Okay. Over the past 18 months, Highlands and Islands Enterprise has supported developments in 23 companies, which, it is estimated, have created more than 1,000 jobs, and Scottish Enterprise has invested £9.7 million against total project costs of £68 million. Over the past couple of years, we have invested around £6.5 million in energy skills, and we have invested £10 million in innovation. Nearly 100,000 companies in Scotland receive our small business bonus; and we work ever more closely with the universities and colleges involved in oil and gas.

I myself have set up two joint meetings between the Scottish and UK Governments to arrange sessions for small and medium-sized oil and gas businesses to access finance. We did not do that with a fanfare of trumpets or publicity—we just did it—and hundreds of companies were there, many of which, we believe, were helped. Over the past three years, I have attended five PILOT meetings, and I have worked constructively as far as I can and to the best of my ability with the UK Government.

However—and this, I am afraid, is what Mr Fraser does not seem to get—the trouble is that it is not just us in the Scottish Government who are saying that there is a pressing need for these fiscal changes and that they are urgently required to tackle exploration, which is at an all-time low, and address the desperate need to instil and reinstil confidence in the industry. The industry itself is saying it, too. Malcolm Webb has said:

“We have experienced repeated and increasingly aggressive tax hits ... All of this has weakened the international competitiveness and resilience of the industry”.

Over a period of 57 days in the past three and a half years, I have met more than 110 oil and gas companies in and around Aberdeen. I can tell the chamber beyond any shadow of a doubt that the clear consensus of all businesses in Aberdeen is that these proposed tax changes, which will bring back exploration, as has happened in Norway, which will reinstil confidence in the UK and which will undo the damage of the Danny Alexander tax—the Danny tax—in 2011, are what the industry wants and needs, and it needs them this March.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12120.1 Jenny Marra: 2020 Vision, the Strategic Forward Direction of the NHS—As an amendment to
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-12101 John Swinney: Budget (Scotland) (No.4) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the general prin
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12095.4 Ken Macintosh: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095.2 Alex Johnstone: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095.1 Willie Rennie: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095 Alex Neil: Tackling Inequalities—That the Parliament agrees that a strong, sustainable eco
>> Show more
YesCarried

Selection of John Pentland MSP for appointment to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.
Not VotedCarried

S4M-12060.2 Hugh Henry: Commending the People who Keep Scotland Safe in Emergencies—As an amendment
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-12045.3 Shona Robison: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-12045 in the name of Rich
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12045.2 Jackson Carlaw: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-12045 in the name of Ric
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Fergus Ewing
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11878: Fergus Ewing, Inverness and Nairn, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11756: Fergus Ewing, Inverness and Nairn, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11680: Fergus Ewing, Inverness and Nairn, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11664: Fergus Ewing, Inverness and Nairn, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11511: Fergus Ewing, Inverness and Nairn, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11510: Fergus Ewing, Inverness and Nairn, Scottish National Party, On Behalf of Parliamentary Bureau, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11332: Fergus Ewing, Inverness and Nairn, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11071: Fergus Ewing, Inverness and Nairn, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11070: Fergus Ewing, Inverness and Nairn, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11069: Fergus Ewing, Inverness and Nairn, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
This Member currently holds a ministerial post. First Minister and Ministers cannot ask the Government questions which is why no recent questions are displaying here. Please use the full search to find details of previous questions by this Member.
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S3W-06602: Fergus Ewing, Central Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/11/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S3O-06602: Fergus Ewing, Glasgow Anniesland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/11/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-00002: Fergus Ewing, Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/05/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-00001: Fergus Ewing, Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/05/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-00000: Fergus Ewing, Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/05/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32673: Fergus Ewing, Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/03/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32686: Fergus Ewing, Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/03/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32674: Fergus Ewing, Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/03/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32675: Fergus Ewing, Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/03/2007 Show Full Question >>
Question S2W-32676: Fergus Ewing, Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/03/2007 Show Full Question >>

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