British Cabinet to Meet in Scotland amid Independence Fears
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - The British cabinet will meet in Scotland for only the third time in history on Monday to announce plans for the country's oil industry, which it warns will decline if Scots vote for independence.
The fate of North Sea oil revenues will be a key issue ahead of the September 18 referendum to decide whether Scotland will end its 300-year-old union with England, and is expected to be the focus of Prime Minister David Cameron's cabinet meeting.
In a statement released on Monday, the prime minister revealed new measures for the industry.
They include plans for the industry and government to work closer to share infrastructure and geophysical information and to ensure that licences are awarded with a view to extracting the maximum amount of oil, AFP reported.
"These steps -- good for the economy and good for jobs -- will increase our energy security and reduce our reliance on imported oil and gas, which is one of the main drivers pushing up people's bills," said Downing Street.
It is only the third time that the British cabinet has sat in Scotland as Cameron strives to convince voters of the economic case to stay in the union.
"For many years the UK has supported the North Sea oil and gas industry and we have worked together to make this an economic success the whole country can be proud of," argued Cameron.
"I promise we will continue to use the UK's broad shoulders to invest in this vital industry so we can attract businesses, create jobs, develop new skills in our young people and ensure we can compete in the global race," he added.
London warned that the UK Continental Shelf, source of the country's oil, faces "unprecedented challenges" that can only be met by a United Kingdom.
"Tax revenues from oil and gas in 2012-13 were £4.7 billion ($7.8 billion, 5.7 billion euros) lower than the year before -- a drop of more than 40 percent," said the Downing Street statement.
"While the UK's broad and diverse economy is able to absorb this volatility, this equates to more than one third of Scotland's health budget or two thirds of Scotland's spending on education."
The British Cabinet has only been held in Scotland twice before: under Cameron's predecessor Gordon Brown in Glasgow in 2009 and under David Lloyd George in 1921 in Inverness.