HC Deb 28 February 1991 vol 186 c1111
17. Mr. Roy Hughes

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the cumulative total of all taxes from North sea oil since 1979 in 1989–90 prices.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard

The total over the period since 1979–80 is estimated at around £94 billion.

Mr. Hughes

Since Britain is back in recession and facing a huge trade deficit, since our industrial training is poor by any standards and since investment in manufacturing is declining yet again, does not it appear that North sea oil revenues have been largely squandered? Is not that a major indictment of the Government after nearly 12 years in office?

Mrs. Shephard

It is extraordinary that Opposition Members continue to knock British achievements. North sea oil revenues have contributed to the reduction of overseas debt and of the public sector borrowing requirement as a share of the gross domestic product, thus freeing resources for private investment. Our net overseas assets rose from £12½ billion at the end of 1978 to £112 billion at the end of 1989. That is the highest proportion of all major countries as a percentage of GDP and it is no mean achievement.

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