‘I meant no insensitivity to the people of Scotland’ – Norwich MP Clive Lewis incurs wrath of nationalists over oil and gas industry decline comments

Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Scottish nationalists have rounded on Norwich MP Clive Lewis over his 'insensitive' comments about the oil and gas industry.

The shadow energy minister has caused uproar among Aberdeen Scottish nationalists after he compared the oil and gas industry regulator to an 'insolvency practitioner' during a committee meeting about the Energy Bill.

His comments came ahead of a visit to Scotland by Prime Minister David Cameron today, where he is set to announce more help for the sector which has been hit by a record slump in oil prices.

Speaking about plans for a new regulator – the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) – as part of the Energy Bill scrutiny debate Mr Lewis told MPs that: 'In light of the current collapse of the price of oil, in some ways it's more like an insolvency practitioner which has come to extract the last bits of value from the UK Continental Shelf and to manage the process as effectively as possible.'

He was immediately rounded on by SNP MP Callum McCaig who branded the characterisation 'insensitive and unrealistic', insisting the North Sea sector was not yet a 'sunset industry'.

'What the industry needs right now is support, not to see senior front bench MPs talking of 'insolvency' and turning their backs on the sector,' he said.

Mr Lewis defended his comments as a 'frank, realistic assessment of the economic and industrial situation', but insisted: 'I emphasise that I meant no insensitivity to the industry or to the people of Scotland—or to the people of the UK.'

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But the SNP's Mark McDonald has tabled a motion at the Scottish Parliament condemning Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's ally.

He wrote in the motion: 'The parliament regrets the description of the OGA as an 'insolvency practitioner' by the shadow energy minister Clive Lewis, considers that the oil and gas industry requires support during the continuing period of low oil prices.'