JUST two companies in Pembrokeshire are generating nearly £7m a day in tax, yet the area suffers from second-class services, it was warned yesterday.
A Tory MP said despite the tax returns the Government receives, Pembrokeshire's main hospital is threatened with cuts and most people cannot get NHS dental treatment.
Stephen Crabb used the tax bills of the two firms, the Chevron refinery in Pembroke and the Total site in Milford Haven, to draw attention to the disparity between the Treasury cash provided by the county and the public services provided there.
The two businesses provide enough funds through taxes and duty on oil barrels to meet, theoretically, almost half the entire Welsh NHS annual budget.
Mr Crabb's claims have echoes of the "hands off Scotland's oil" campaigns run by the Scottish National Party, and there were eyebrows raised at Westminster yesterday when Mr Crabb raised the issue with Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The Preseli Pembrokeshire MP said afterwards, "I joke sometimes that Pembrokeshire should declare UDI [unilateral declaration of independence] and keep all revenue in the county. My concern is first and foremost for the people of Pembrokeshire, who are suffering from second-class rail and transport links and the proposed closure of the district general hospital.
"Pembrokeshire is home to the UK's most important energy port which raises hundreds of millions of pounds of tax for the Treasury every month. Local people have got every right to ask why more of this money does not get recycled back into the community to improve infrastructure like the A40, rail and other vital services.
"Instead Pembrokeshire's money is being wasted elsewhere."
Although it is developing into a major energy-sector hub, Pembrokeshire still qualifies for EU Objective One aid - grants reserved for the poorest parts of Europe. It also has an acute shortage of NHS dentists and faces proposals to downgrade its main hospital, Withybush.
The idea of matching revenue raised in a certain area to public spending is highly contentious, and the government insisted yesterday that Pembrokeshire had benefited from higher general levels of spending and low inflation and interest rates.
Mr Crabb said, "Money needs to be invested to sustain what is one of the world's leading energy ports. These companies have generated huge revenues for the government, but there are few public service improvements on the ground. What people care about are their services, and people have every right to ask where the money is going."
The SNP campaign around north sea oil - using the slogan "It's Scotland's Oil" was a success for the party in the 1970s. The SNP won 33% of the vote in the October 1974 election, giving them 11 MPs.
When Mr Crabb raised the issue yesterday at Prime Minister's Questions Mr Blair replied that in the MP's "area" there had been 400 more consultants and 100 more dentists since Labour came to power.
"He might also want to know that the economy is the strongest it's ever been," Mr Blair added.
Mr Crabb said afterwards, "The Prime Minister's figures are wildly inaccurate. I am sure Pembrokeshire people will be very keen to find out exactly where all these new dentists and consultants are.
"Either the PM is completely out of touch with reality or he has got to the point where he will just say anything at the dispatch box to fend off difficult questions about public services.
"It is a disgrace that local people have to take to the streets to campaign to retain basic services such as 24-hour fire cover and their District General Hospital. The Prime Minister's response to these questions is wholly inadequate."
Chevron, formerly Texaco, generates more than 3.5 million gallons of petrol per day.