I suggest that the principle is the key. The proposed change would, without a shadow of doubt, potentially save lives. If anyone doubted the universal appeal of the air ambulance, we should look at who has spoken in this debate.
The debate was commenced on the Scottish border, in Hexham, but took in the constituencies of my right hon. Friend Sir Alan Beith, my hon. Friends the Members for Penrith and The Border (Rory Stewart) and for York Outer (Julian Sturdy), and Hugh Bayley, as well as other Yorkshire constituencies, such as that of my hon. Friend Stuart Andrew. We then went down to the constituencies of my hon. Friend Andrew Percy, John Healey and Greg Mulholland. Then we travelled down the country, taking in the constituencies of my hon. Friend the Member for North West Leicestershire
(Andrew Bridgen) and Mr Howarth, as well as constituencies in London, such as those of my hon. Friends the Members for Brentford and Isleworth (Mary Macleod) and for Hendon (Dr Offord), before going down into Kent, to the constituency of my hon. Friend Tracey Crouch. We then went down to the constituency of my hon. Friend Richard Drax—not forgetting my hon. Friend Mark Pawsey, whose constituency we passed on the way—before finally heading down towards the vast reaches represented by my hon. Friend Anne Marie Morris, and that is without taking into account the areas represented by the shadow Minister, Catherine McKinnell, and the Minister.
I am grateful that this has been a cross-party debate. My thanks go to all who signed the petition. The debate was also well informed, but it would have been helpful if the shadow Minister had remembered the 10 fuel duty rises from the last Government, which have had such an impact on the air ambulance service, and the fact that this Government have not put fuel duty up once.
To sum up, I want to give particular credit to two groups of individuals: to all the staff of the air ambulances, all over the country, and to all those who raise money for individual air ambulances. Last weekend I was at the Haydon Bridge beer festival, and I shall be at the Otterburn show raising money for these institutions this coming weekend. Anybody who has no plans for the Olympics in the summer can come and join me on the Pennine way odyssey, which is taking place in August, or give funds to the event. The principle is the key. The proposed change will save lives, and I commend the motion to the House.
Question put and agreed to.
That this House supports wholeheartedly the work and actions of the Air Ambulance Service nationally, and all the individual crew members and staff, who provide an outstanding service to people up and down the UK; notes that the Air Ambulance Service is a charitable organisation, funded by donations given by the general public, and without any direct funding from Government; further notes that the Air Ambulance Service has saved successive governments millions of pounds; notes that the Air Ambulance Service provides an emergency service similar to the Lifeboat Service, and that the Lifeboat Service has been excluded from the EU VAT Directive on fuel costs since 1977, whereas the Air Ambulance Service has been required to pay for VAT on fuel; notes that successive governments have failed to provide a rebate or exemption to the Air Ambulance Service for this VAT; calls on the Government to conduct an urgent review of this situation; and further calls on the Government, in the next 12 months, to consider providing for grants to the Air Ambulance Service commensurate to the sums incurred by the Air Ambulance Service for the VAT on the fuel they purchase, and to publish the outcome of that review within this timescale.