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Air Passenger Duty

Volume 526: debated on Monday 4 April 2011

The following is the answer given by the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, the right hon. Member for East Devon (Mr Swire) relating to a question from the hon. Member for Belfast East (Naomi Long) during Northern Ireland Question Time on 23 March 2011.

3. What assessment he has made of the likely effects of changes in air passenger duty on business travel between Northern Ireland and London. (47494)

I have had meetings with the Northern Ireland Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and with my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury to discuss air passenger duty. My Treasury colleagues fully understand the issues involved. The rates that took effect last November were, of course, set and legislated for by the previous Government.

I thank the Minister for his answer. He will be aware that, in addition to air passenger duty, Heathrow and Gatwick intend to levy passenger landing charges for regional flights, which will compound the problem. Will he confirm that this matter is at the top of his agenda, so that we can ensure that Northern Ireland businesses have access to the capital?

Indeed; these things have been discussed at ministerial level. I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury is here to listen to the hon. Lady’s comments. We take this matter very seriously. A lot of the issues to do with Gatwick and Heathrow are commercial matters that are more properly dealt with by BAA.

[Official Report, 23 March 2011, Vol. 525, c. 934.]

Letter of correction from Mr Hugo Swire:

An error has been identified in the oral answer given on 23 March 2011. It has come to our attention that commercial matters at Gatwick airport are not the responsibility of BAA, who recently sold the airport to a consortium, with the largest shareholder being Global Infrastructure Partners.

The correct answer should have been:

Indeed; these things have been discussed at ministerial level. I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury is here to listen to the hon. Lady's comments. We take this matter very seriously. A lot of the issues to do with Gatwick and Heathrow are commercial matters that are more properly dealt with by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) and BAA respectively.