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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

If the hon. Gentleman will let me finish, I shall describe the best possible ways to help the regions.

I greeted the shadow Chief Secretary's comments with mirth because, although I may be extrapolating too far from the drift of his comments, he seemed to be saying that, because the Labour party thought that it would be in government—I thought that Labour Front-Bench spokesmen had been forbidden to say triumphalist things like that—all of a sudden it had decided that it must be responsible. By implication, for the past 18 years it has not been responsible. It focuses the mind somewhat to know that one will be in government; one suddenly has to be responsible.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central is right: a large sum is involved, and any party that votes against the raising of that sum, by what I believe to be a reasonably fair form of taxation, will have to say where else that money can be found. The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point when he says that that money primarily goes into the core services whose funding all hon. Members, regardless of party, want increased.

I was not sure whether the proposal in amendment No. 22 was that flights should be exempt or charged at a lower rate if they were to or from any objective 1 airport. To be legal under European law, that proposal would have to apply to all objective 1 airports throughout the European Union. The cost would be £50 million—quite a substantial sum—but the effect might not be exactly what hon. Members intend. For example, on that basis, the exemption would apply to all flights from any United Kingdom airport to anywhere in Greece or any other objective 1 country, so flights from Heathrow to Greece would be exempt. [Interruption.] I am sorry; that is the effect of amendment No. 22. [Interruption.] I am afraid that it is.