Centrica plea over gas tax

CENTRICA was yesterday hopeful that the chancellor would reconsider plans to raid the profits of North Sea gas firms, after his own tax tsar hit out at the proposals.

A source close to the British Gas owner said they were pleased that such a “senior voice” had “questioned whether this is the right way forward”.

They added there had been “much interaction” with the Treasury about the possibility of reviewing the proposal.

Centrica argues that oil and gas should not be treated in the same way, since gas is sold at approximately half the price of oil.

Earlier this week, John Whiting, the head of George Osborne’s Office of Tax Simplification, described the surprise raid on North Sea oil and gas firms as a “rabbit punch” – an illegal boxing blow – that was “precipitate and unexpected”. Whiting said he was speaking as a director of the Chartered Institute of Taxation and not in an official capacity.

But despite Centrica’s optimism, a Treasury aide said there was “no way” Osborne would rework the proposals.

Representatives of the oil and gas industry will today make their case against the North Sea tax raid at the Commons energy select committee.

Representatives of the oil and gas industry will today make their case against Osborne’s North Sea raid