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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

Madam Deputy Speaker, you would doubtless rule me out of order if I listed the many areas where there is a clear difference between us and the Government. One of them is that we will not make promises unless we know we can deliver on them—indeed, that is a big difference between Labour and the Conservatives.

Another difference, related to these amendments, is that we have always recognised that the highlands and islands of Scotland have particular transport problems, but those problems are not satisfactorily dealt with by the sort of promises that some of the small parties make, knowing that they will never be in a position to keep them. Nothing is more calculated to increase disillusionment among the public than political parties making promises that they know they will never have to deliver.

There is clearly a problem in this area at which we need to look, but I am not giving any commitments and I will not do so unless I know that we can stick to them. The points raised by several hon. Members, particularly by my hon. Friend the Member for Western Isles and the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland, have been argued positively by representatives of the island communities who know what the problems are and who have come up with constructive ways of dealing with them.

I make no apology for the fact that Labour will not support amendment No. 7. Perhaps we will hear how the money is to be made good; the hon. Members who have tabled the amendment have to reflect on the fact that the revenue would have be made good from elsewhere and that some of it would find its way to their own constituents. If they cannot answer that question, they should not have tabled an amendment of this nature.