Hint of compromise on North Sea oil tax

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The Government has given the first signs of rowing back on plans to hike taxes on North Sea oil and gas that are causing a furore in the industry.

In the first meeting with ministers since last week's Budget, oil and gas companies listed a string of objections to a plan that insiders deride as "not thought through" and "back of a fag packet", stressing the threat to Britain's energy security as well as its valuable North Sea industry.

The message could be getting through, according to sources at the meeting, who said that government representatives including the Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, and Treasury minister Justine Greening hinted at room to manoeuvre.

"We're going to be considering some of the points made," Mr Huhne confirmed after the meeting.