Scrap air passenger duty, say MPs

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MPs have called on the government to scrap Air Passenger Duty, claiming the tax is damaging the UK economy.

A backbench business motion asking the government to give "high priority" to scrapping the duty was passed by xxx to xxx on 23 October 2013.

But Economic Secretary to the Treasury Nicky Morgan had argued that abolishing APD would not be sensible to the UK's economic recovery.

The debate was suggested to the Backbench Business Committee by the Democratic Unionist Party.

The party's motion noted that the UK has the "highest rate" of APD in the world, and argued that it is detrimental to attracting inward investment, tourism and public use of airlines.

Opening the debate, South Antrim MP Sammy Wilson insisted APD was a "green tax" that was putting Britain's domestic airports at a "grave disadvantage".

Conservative MP Nigel Evans, former deputy Commons Speaker, said that ineffective efforts to tackle climate change, via the APD, had resulted in passenger change.

"And what that now means is that instead of them flying from domestic airports in the United Kingdom, they are now going to Schiphol, Paris, Frankfurt and Madrid, and are taking their long haul flights from there, meaning that the United Kingdom loses out?"

For the government, Ms Morgan ruled out abolishing the duty: "With forecast revenues of £2.9bn in 2013-14, APD makes an essential contribution to the government's strategy for tackling the current budget deficit and getting debt under control."

Ms Morgan pointed out that the government had frozen APD "in real terms since 2010, and since then APD rates have risen by only £1 for the vast majority of flights".

In a division, MPs rejected the DUP's motion by 284 votes to 13, a majority of 271.

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