HERE'S a sentence you won’t see anywhere else.

Next week the House of Commons gathers to hear George Osborne’s latest Budget, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

Since that confession earns me a rating some distance along the scale between eccentricity and clinical insanity, I might as well compound the offence by adding that I always look forward to it.

This is not, I can assure you, out of fondness for Mr Osborne or his fiscal strategy.

I’m not quite that weird.

Nor, having spent several years working in the Commons Press Gallery, does it betoken any love of grand parliamentary ritual.

As Walter Bagehot said of the House of Lords, the best cure for admiring that place is to go and see it.

It’s simply that, for quite a few years past, the Chamber of Commerce has done me the honour of inviting me to Aberdeen to chair the Budget Breakfast that it holds on the morning after Budget Day.

I never need asking twice.

I like visiting Aberdeen and I always enjoy working with the Chamber.

In particular, I enjoy the Budget Breakfast.

The Chamber infallibly wheels out some formidable experts, who delve into the detail of the Budget Red Book with a forensic insight that quite takes the breath away.

Little wonder the event is invariably packed to the rafters.

Keith chairs the Chamber's annual post-Budget business breakfast, analysing what the Chancellor's pronouncements mean for business

Keith chairs the Chamber's annual post-Budget business breakfast, analysing what the Chancellor's pronouncements mean for business

I sit there like everyone else, learning stuff that runs much deeper than the media coverage can offer.

And then we open up to questions and comments from the floor.

And it is there, if you’ll allow me to be just a tad ungracious, that a little disappointment generally creeps in.

The questions are well-informed and well-aimed.

Sometimes I even understand them.

But nearly always, they are all about the Budget’s consequences for just one industry.

You won’t need my help in guessing which one.

Nor, equally, do I need your prompting to understand why.

The oil industry has transformed the city and its hinterland over the past four decades, and powered its economy like no other.

It commands centre-stage.

This year, with prospects thrown into greater uncertainty by the collapse in oil prices, it would be reasonable to expect that it will be more than ever on the minds of Chamber members.

All the same, I personally will take some heart if there are just a few questions next week about how the Chancellor’s dispensations might play on other industries.

Even today, the Grampian region has more than one club in its economic golf bag.

It has agriculture, fishing, hospitality, distilling … not to mention the rich treasury of ancillary aptitudes that have built up alongside oil.

To talk of other things might sound treacherous at this time of adversity, but it shouldn’t.

I’ve had cause to work several times in recent years in the Emirates.

With the end of their own oil boom no longer distant, they’ve steeled themselves to focus hard on diversifying their economic portfolio.

For sure, that’s easier with a command economy and a sovereign oil fund.

But you have to be impressed by the discipline, foresight and investment they’ve brought to planning for life after oil. They’ve gone at it hell for leather.

They see the end coming, and are determined to be ready for it.

A few questions over the croissants next Thursday about non-petrochemical topics would be an encouraging sign that Aberdeen and its Chamber are now looking forward with the same realism, and imagination to the future … however tough it’s going to be to take leave of the past.

  • The business breakfast Budget 2016: The Morning After is on Thursday, March 17, with EY experts Derek Leith and Colin Pearson illuminating how the Budget will affect you and your business