More calls for Air Passenger Duty to be devolved

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By a Newsnet reporter

Yet another leading Scottish business figure has called upon the UK government to rethink its refusal to devolve control of Air Passenger Duty (APD) to Scotland.

The proposal to devolve control of the tax was contained in the first draft of the Calman Commission’s findings, but was removed from the Scotland Bill when it went before the Westminster Parliament due to objections from the UK Treasury.

Westminster recently devolved control of the tax power to the Northern Irish Assembly, but has set its face against giving Scotland the same powers.

The refusal has sparked off a clamour of criticism from Scottish business organisations which back the request of the Scottish government for the tax power to be devolved to Holyrood in order to help stimulate the Scottish economy.
 
The call from Ms Cameron and the Scottish Chamber of Commerce adds to those already made by Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, the Lib Dem leader of Aberdeenshire Council, the leader of Aberdeen City Council, North East Scotland SCDI, NESTRANS, BAA Aberdeen Airport, Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Futures and Eastern Airways.
 
Speaking in the Sunday Herald, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Liz Cameron, urged the Westminster government to honour the original proposals in Calman and to devolve control of the tax to the Scottish parliament. 
 
Ms Cameron said: ” … the tax should be devolved to allow the Scottish Government to set rates of APD appropriate to our economic needs and ambitions.”
 
Welcoming the call from Ms Cameron, SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central, Kevin Stewart, said:
 
“Pressure is mounting on the UK Government to devolve APD, with support steadily growing for Scotland to have responsibility for this tax.
 
“There must be equality of treatment for Scotland following a cut in the rate of APD for direct long-haul passengers travelling from Northern Ireland – which is currently £12 in economy and £24 in business and first class.
 
“We need parity with Northern Ireland as it is completely hypocritical of the UK Government to make this move while leaving devolution of APD out of the Scotland Bill.
 
“The Treasury needs to sit up and listen to these calls and recognise its refusal to devolve control is extremely damaging to Scotland’s air industry.
 
“There is overwhelming evidence and support for APD to be devolved.  Scotland must be given all the tools to equip it to make the best decisions for our economic needs.”