Swinney acknowledges oil-jobs error

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Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney has acknowledged an error in a report which claimed 34,000 jobs would be created by the oil and gas industry in Scotland over the next two years.

Mr Swinney said in a letter to Conservative finance spokesman Gavin Brown that data had been interpreted wrongly and the figure in fact represented the UK-wide number of jobs which would be created.

He said: “This was a result of an incorrect interpretation of data presented by Lloyds Banking Group by Scottish Government officials in the original published version of Maximising the Return from Oil and Gas in an Independent Scotland.”

The paper was updated on 26 July, three days after publication, with the correction but opposition parties have accused the SNP government of deliberately misrepresenting the figures initially to project a more positive image for Scotland’s job and economic prospects from the oil and gas industry.

Mr Brown expressed his belief that the Scottish Government had “pretended” the figure was a Scottish statistic and said the resulting lack of a prediction for Scottish jobs left a “substantial gap” in the SNP’s separation argument due to the economic reliance on the sector.

However, a spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said the media had been alerted as soon as Lloyds pointed out the mistake.

“Last month Lloyds confirmed that the projection was for across the UK.  We made clear to media then that we would amend our paper to reflect that and reference it accordingly.”

The spokeswoman added that the Scottish Government expected significant employment opportunities “for many years to come” as a result of oil and gas production in Scotland over the next three decades.