Rates of Duty

Part of Clause 14 – in the House of Commons at 9:45 pm on 3rd April 1995.

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Photo of David Heathcoat-Amory David Heathcoat-Amory , Wells 9:45 pm, 3rd April 1995

I hate to disappoint the hon. Gentleman—[HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] Actually, that is not true; I do not mind disappointing the hon. Gentleman because this is not one of his brainier schemes. In Committee, he had the idea of exempting all members of the Council of Europe from the full rate of air passenger duty. That was rejected, and I invite my hon. Friends to do the same to this amendment.

The £5 rate of duty was originally restricted to European Union countries as they are easily identifiable. That is an important consideration because travel agents and airlines around the world will have to administer the duty and distinguish between the £10 and £5 rates, so we chose the European Union as a readily identifiable group of countries. We then extended the rate to the European Economic Area because, by law, we must extend to it privileges of that nature granted to the European Union. There we must stop, however, because there is no clear case for singling out Malta and Cyprus, brave and plucky though at least one of them may have been during the second world war.

The hon. Gentleman will be pleased to know that a relief may come the way of those two countries as both have applied to join the European Union. If and when they succeed in doing so, they will qualify for the £5 rate of air passenger duty. I would rather leave it to the forces of time and history to grant them that privilege than do so this evening in the House.