THE cost-of-living crisis is “killing off people”, a Tory minister visiting Holyrood was told after he claimed a windfall tax would “kill off investment”.

The Conservative Energy Minister Greg Hands was speaking to the Scottish Parliament’s Net Zero Committee on Wednesday when the exchange happened.

Hands also claimed the Scottish Government’s opposition to new nuclear power stations is preventing it from being part of a “renaissance” of the sector.

Hands told the Holyrood committee that world events had driven up energy prices and the UK Government was not able to completely insulate consumers from this.

He said UK ministers are spending £22 billion this year to help households with the cost of living.

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Some of this help – such as the Energy Bills Support Scheme, which will provide a £200 reduction in electricity costs – will not be felt until October, he said.

Hands said: “It’s very much the belief of the Chancellor – matters of taxation are matters for the Chancellor – that a windfall tax would kill off investment.

“For example in the North Sea and particularly from companies that are also using those proceeds to invest increasingly in renewables.

“Oil and gas companies already pay corporation tax at twice the rate of other companies, they’ve paid around £375bn in taxation to the Exchequer since North Sea oil and gas came on stream.

“So we take the view that the windfall tax would be likely to kill off investment and cost jobs, particularly in Scotland.”

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Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon (above) responded to him, saying: “Instead of killing off investment, just to quote your words back. What we’re hearing from charities, trade unions in Scotland, local volunteers and food banks is that the cost-of-living crisis is killing off people.”

Labour have backed a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, while the SNP have called for one on all firms which made massive profits through the pandemic.

Lennon also asked about the proposed Jackdaw oil field in the North Sea, to which the minister said an independent environmental assessment is being carried out.

Increased investment in gas will help with the UK’s security of supply, he said.

Scottish Conservative MSP Liam Kerr asked if there is a case for wholesale restructuring of the energy market.

Hands said the UK Government is looking to change the UK’s energy mix, increasing the move to renewables and nuclear power.

He said: “It would be really helpful if the Scottish Government were to drop its ideological opposition to nuclear. Because nuclear has got a fantastic track record in Scotland.

“It’s a pity to see Scotland not participating – thanks to the Scottish Government’s approach to nuclear – in our nuclear renaissance.”

The UK’s Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng had previously ruled out building any new nuclear power plants in Scotland due to SNP opposition, but his department later admitted that they are still considering a site in Ayrshire.