Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes has slammed the SNP Government for failing to explain what independent analysis it has taken on the impact of scrapping air passenger duty (APD), as Ministers continue to rely on reports and submissions from members of the aviation industry to drive forward policy.
John Swinney yesterday launched a consultation on the government’s plan to cut APD by 50% over the next five years, with the end goal of eventually scrapping it completely.
But as Ms McInnes quizzed the Infrastructure Secretary during Topical Questions this afternoon, Mr Brown remained unable to explain what independent information the Scottish Government has gathered on the economic impact the cut would have.
Ms McInnes said: “Today the Cabinet Secretary failed to answer the easiest of questions. Instead he and his SNP colleagues are relying on aviation industry reports and representatives to make the economic case for scrapping air passenger duty for them.
“Emissions targets have been missed for four years running. There has been a 10% cut in the climate change budget. A £250 million aviation tax break would be the final nail in the coffin of the SNP’s green credentials.
“The Scottish Government should not be basing policy on evidence submitted by organisations and people with a vested interest - we need independent analysis of the economic impact this cut would have.
“SNP MSPs’ only response to legitimate questioning seems to be that any scrutiny of the Scottish Government’s actions is talking Scotland down. There is nothing more important than probing and uncovering the reasons why a particular policy is being adopted and Scottish Liberal Democrats will continue to do so until we get answers that are satisfactory to us and the people of Scotland.”
On the APD Stakeholder Forum there are 15 representatives of airlines and airports and just two environmental groups (Scottish Environment LINK and Stop Climate Chaos) that are represented by the same person.
The previous question asked by the Scottish Liberal Democrats on the economic impact of cutting APD referred to by Ms McInnes is:
S4W-16247: Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Liberal Democrats
To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S4F-01500 by Alex Salmond on 27 June 2013 (Official report, col. 21759), whether it will set out (a) the evidence that supports the First Minister’s comment that “reduction or elimination [of air passenger duty] would result in additional not less revenue”, (b) the levels of air passenger duty to which the statement applies and (c) any assumptions made on which other tax receipts rise as a result of a reduction in air passenger duty.
Answered by Keith Brown (24/07/2013):
The information requested is contained in “The Economic Impact of Air Passenger Duty” which can be viewed at: http://corporate.easyjet.com/~/media/Files/E/Easyjet-Plc-V2/pdf/content/APD-study-full.pdf. The report was published in February 2013 and was commissioned by British Airways, easyJet, Virgin Atlantic and Ryanair.