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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 Mr Philip Oppenheim Mr Philip Oppenheim , Amber Valley 8:45 pm, 11th March 1997

Yes, there is scope for looking at that matter; but if it is not covered by international treaty, there is scope for taxing it. The hon. Gentleman might want to raise that issue when he comes to the Treasury tomorrow, but generally air fuel—regardless of whether it is for domestic or for international flights—is not taxed as a result of an international treaty.

On relative rates, as one or two Opposition Members accept, our rate is—even after this increase—still relatively low. I shall quickly read out the figures based on a £120 domestic flight—we are primarily talking about domestic flights. The tax in Germany would be £27.61, and the list then goes down through Mexico, Greece, Austria, Finland, Spain, Norway, Italy, Belgium, Canada, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, the USA, Portugal, the Netherlands—apologies to Hansard—which all levy the tax at a higher rate than the UK. The UK is in the bottom third of countries in respect of taxing domestic flights, even after the rise.

No one likes taxes, but as the shadow Chief Secretary, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling), pointed out, this tax raises a significant sum—£385 million in 1998–99. We all know that the money goes primarily to core services such as education, law and order and health. Those are all services on which hon. Members on both sides of the House want extra money to be spent, so it is worth remembering that that is where the money goes.