Air Departure Tax (Update)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 5th October 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Derek Mackay Derek Mackay Scottish National Party

The most important point in that commentary or question was in the first sentence, when Neil Bibby stated that the exemption must continue. The exemption as it stands cannot continue, and the UK Government has not found a solution to that issue, other than to propose that the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government and, therefore, the people of Scotland should bear the risk of liability for the historical lack of compliance because of the lack of notification. That was the doing not of the Scottish Government but of the UK Government. No wonder it wrote to me to suggest notification, but only if the Scottish Government took the risk of that. That is in clear breach of the no-detriment principle of the Smith commission and the enhancement of powers under devolution.

I agree with Neil Bibby about trying to ensure that the exemption continues. I raised the matter in Parliament when we introduced the bill at stage 1, and I have repeatedly said that I would try to find a resolution through working with the UK Government. However, it is for the UK Government to resolve any lack of compliance, because of the reason that I shared earlier, which is about how this Parliament and this Government conduct their business in accordance with EU law and regulations.

In principle, we stand by our position on air departure tax and the economic benefits that would come from reducing it. However, we will not land on the people of Scotland—pardon the pun—a defective power that might cost them dearly if it is found not to be compliant when the issue is considered.

Looking after the economy, supporting tourism, protecting the Highlands and Islands and ensuring that there is a competent transfer of powers are important issues for the Government. However, if the key ask from the Labour Party is that the exemption must continue, I say that that is exactly what I have been trying to achieve.