Clashes Over Oil Industry At Holyrood

The future of the North Sea oil industry has dominated clashes at Holyrood, with the First Minister urging opposition leaders to give their support to SNP proposals to help the industry in the wake of falling prices.

Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats all pressed Nicola Sturgeon on the impact that prices, which have now dropped below 50 US dollars (£32) a barrel, would have on both the industry and the country.

Ms Sturgeon called for an end to "petty political point-scoring'' at the same time as she criticised Labour MPs for backing Tory plans for a further round of austerity cuts in a vote at Westminster earlier this week.

The SNP leader announced the creation of a special employment taskforce to help the oil industry during a visit to Aberdeen yesterday.

She said: "If we can get on to the serious issue of the jobs concern in the North Sea, it's because there is a really serious concern that yesterday I established a jobs taskforce, to work to maintain employment levels in the North Sea, to give practical assistances to those who are faced with prospect of redundancy and to give a guarantee to every apprentice working in the oil and gas sector of continuing employment or training.

"That's the kind of practical help people want from the Scottish Government, not petty political point-scoring like we're getting from Labour.''

Labour deputy leader Kezia Dugdale accused the First Minister of failing to act quickly enough when prices started to tumble

She told MSPs that Holyrood energy minister Fergus Ewing has described the "oil crisis as the most serious jobs situation Scotland has faced in living memory'', adding that Ms Sturgeon had said during her visit to Aberdeen that "jobs were under threat''.

The Labour MSP said: "It begs the question why the First Minister took so long to find Aberdeen on a map.''

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