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Rates of Air Passenger Duty

Part of Clause 9 – in the House of Commons at 8:45 pm on 11th March 1997.

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Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 8:45 pm, 11th March 1997

I shall disappoint the hon. Gentleman in two respects. I am glad that he raised the other point, because I am happy to deal with it. The hon. Gentleman will recall that, when the Labour party tabled an amendment to stop VAT on gas and electricity going up to the full 17.5 per cent. rate, the arithmetic of the House meant that it was necessary to win support not only from Opposition parties but from rebel Tories. The nationalists, as ever, wanted to get in on someone else's activities; they tabled an amendment to go one better than us that would have reduced VAT to 5 per cent. I thought, and I think that I was right, that it was opportunist to table such an amendment then. The argument before the House was whether VAT on gas and electricity should be at 17.5 or 8 per cent. I understand why the hon. Gentleman does this. The whole stance of the nationalist party is to—