MPs call for review of controversial tax

DOZENS of MPs from across the political spectrum are calling on the Government to launch a "robust" review of a controversial tax on flying.

A plane leaves Newcastle Airport

DOZENS of MPs from across the political spectrum are calling on the Government to launch a "robust" review of a controversial tax on flying.

A total of 24 MPs from Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems have signed a Commons motion demanding a robust and transparent assessment of the impact of air passenger duty (APD) on regional air services.

The motion, tabled by Newcastle North MP Doug Henderson, also stresses that airlines and airports should be consulted before any further hikes in APD are introduced.

It says: “Should this assessment confirm that damage is being done to regional services [ministers should] consider measures to relieve or protect those services under threat.”

The move in Parliament comes as business leaders have warned increases in APD will lead to key routes being lost to the region, having a devastating impact on the North East economy.

The controversial tax was hiked up in November and will go up again next year after Chancellor Alistair Darling rejected calls for a review in his recent pre-Budget report. Rises will be passed onto passengers through ticket prices.

The Journal’s A Tax Too Far campaign, which calls for a re-think on APD, has revealed the Government assessment on whether to increase the duty – as opposed to a per plane tax – made no consideration of the effect it will have on airports like Newcastle International and Durham Tees Valley. Minister Angela Eagle, who oversaw the assessment, also admitted there are “anomalies” in the system. A 7,200-mile flight to Hawaii attracts less duty than a flight to Jamaica – 4,600 miles away – because Washington is closer to London than Kingston.

Ms Eagle, a Treasury Minister at the time, told a Commons committee that the bands made the system easier to administer for all concerned.

APD is levied on how far the capital of the destination country is from London and there are four bands, all of which rose in November, having previously doubled in 2007. The tax on an economy short-haul flight to Europe or North Africa has risen from £10 to £11 and in November next year to £12.

Hexham Tory MP Peter Atkinson has signed the motion along with former Conservative ministers Peter Bottomley and Greg Knight. Supportive ex-Labour ministers include Mr Henderson and George Howarth.

Senior Liberal Democrat Nick Harvey and SDLP leader Mark Durcan also want a review on APD. Blaydon’s Dave Anderson, Wearside MP Fraser Kemp and Tyne Bridge’s David Clelland have also backed the motion.

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