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Committee recommends devolving APD to Wales by 2021

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The House of Commons Welsh Affairs Committee has issued a clear recommendation to the UK government that it should fully devolve air passenger duty (APD) in Wales to the Welsh government by 2021.

This recommendation is made in the committee’s report on its inquiry into the advantages and disadvantages of devolution of APD to Wales. The inquiry, begun in January, looked at matters such as the impact on Welsh airports, including those not currently operating international flights, and the impact on passengers and airports in England. The UK government announced in September 2016 that it did not intend to devolve APD to Wales, despite calls from the Welsh government for it to do so.

The committee felt that given the UK government’s decision to devolve some income tax powers to Wales, it should be able to trust the Welsh government with APD. The government’s willingness to devolve APD partially to Northern Ireland and fully to Scotland only reinforced this view.

In the report, the committee said it had not taken a view on whether, if it were devolved, APD should be scrapped or reduced in Wales. However, the committee called on the Welsh government to carry out a full environmental impact assessment before making any decisions on changes, such as reduction of abolition of the duty. This takes note of the Scottish government’s recent announcement abandoning plans to scrap or reduce APD in Scotland due to environmental concerns. Among the arguments made against devolution was the concern that lowering or scrapping APD could incentivise increased air travel and higher carbon emissions.

The committee was not persuaded by Bristol Airport’s argument that its business would suffer significant and lasting damage, even if APD were abolished entirely. Against this, the committee felt devolution of APD could ‘unlock the potential of Cardiff airport, boost the Welsh brand and promote economic growth’.

Commenting on the report, chair of the committee, David Davies, said: ‘I’m not often persuaded by arguments for devolution, but the evidence my committee heard about the benefits of devolving APD was absolutely convincing. The UK government needs to recognise these opportunities for Wales and demonstrate its commitment to equity within the devolution system by setting out a plan for devolving APD to Wales by 2021’.


Issue: 1447
Categories: News