Finance Minister Rebecca Evans has condemned the UK government’s decision to block the devolution of Air Passenger Duty (APD) to Wales as “totally unreasonable”.
The UK Parliament’s Welsh Affairs Committee had recommended the devolution of the tax to Wales by 2021, placing Wales on an equal footing with Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The committee also suggested that the unwillingness of the UK government to devolve APD to Wales raises a question of equity in the devolution process.
Responding to today’s decision by the UK government, Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said:
“The UK government is fast running out of reasons not to put Wales on an equal footing with Scotland and Northern Ireland in terms of APD.
“With such broad cross-party support for this measure, it is clear this chaotic UK Government is incapable of making sensible decisions.
“The UK government’s position defies logic. On the one hand it argues that devolving APD to Wales would give Cardiff Airport an unfair advantage over other regional UK airports because it believes we would cut rates – while on the other hand the Secretary of State for Wales has said he is concerned that Wales would increase rates.
“But devolving APD would mean Wales would have the right to design a system that works for Wales – not the Westminster government.
“This decision does nothing to prove the Prime Minister’s promise to unleash the productive power of the whole of the UK.
“We know there is unanimous support from across the aviation, tourism and business sectors in Wales for APD to be devolved and we will continue to press the UK government to change its position.”
Devolving APD to Wales will provide clear economic benefits for Wales.
Economy and Transport Minister Ken Skates said:
“This unreasonable decision constrains our ability to promote Wales to overseas markets, at a time when it’s needed most.
“The UK government needs to wake up to the clear case to devolve this power for the benefit of Wales and the UK as a whole.”
Devolving APD to Wales is consistent with the UK government’s approach to devolving taxes that overlap with other devolved responsibilities. Devolution of APD will also be a useful potential lever in delivering other devolved responsibilities relating to regional economic development and tourism.