• A Fair Tax on Flying campaign

    I believe that aviation is crucial to our nation’s economy and our future as an outward-looking trading nation. I appreciate constituents concern about APD given the squeeze on living standards.

    Residents have rightly raise in your letter the issue of devolution of APD to Scotland. It is important to press the Government on support for English regional airports, following the devolution of APD to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    Ahead of the Scotland Act 2016, which devolved powers to set the rate of APD, Labour pressed the UK Treasury to lead work on a mechanism to ensure that English airports are not disadvantaged. As you may be aware, HM Treasury published a discussion paper in July 2015 outlining three possible options for tackling the issue: devolving APD within England; varying APD rates within England; or providing aid to regional airports. I am concerned about the potential for a race to the bottom in APD. Despite repeatedly being asked when it will respond to the consultation, the Government continues to state it is considering the responses it received.

    When the Scotland Act was being considered in Parliament, MPs from both sides of the House of Commons raised concerns that further devolution would put regional airports in England at a significant disadvantage and create a distortion of competition. It is important to continue to press the Government to respond to the July 2015 consultation paper. When the Government responds, I will consider the outcome carefully, bearing in mind the points you raise in your letter.

    I am concerned that a host of aviation challenges have stacked up and that a strategy is needed not only on air passenger duty but also improving road and rail access to all international gateways, modernising airspace, noise, promoting bio fuels and delivering on international climate change commitments.

    The Government has stated that like all taxes APD is kept under review with any changes being announced at fiscal events. Therefore the next opportunity for the Government to announce a change to APD will be in the Autumn Statement later this month. I will follow the Autumn Statement and the choices that the new Chancellor makes very closely.

    Please be assured that I will continue to support efforts to urge the Government to press ahead with the full range of measures that are necessary to sustain our successful aviation industry.