‘First Minister’s authority in tatters’
Wed. April 9, 2014
‘First Minister’s authority in tatters’ as Labour MPs fail to support devolution of Air Passenger Duty
Plaid Cymru has said the First Minister’s authority and credibility is in tatters this evening as Labour’s Shadow Exchequer Secretary told Parliament that the First Minister’s party “remained to be convinced of the merits of devolving Air Passenger Duty” (APD).
Plaid Cymru MPs this evening forced a vote in Parliament to devolve control over Air passenger Duty, as recommended by the Silk Commission. A poll by a national newspaper this week found that 78% of participants supported devolving control over APD to Wales.
A Welsh Labour Government spokesperson responded to the new poll by saying the following:
“We will continue to put forward the strong case for it (APD) to be devolved in the hope the UK Government will eventually listen to us and the overwhelming majority of Welsh public who support this move, as reflected in this poll.”
Plaid Cymru MP and Treasury Spokesperson Jonathan Edwards – who lead tonight’s vote – used his contribution to express the benefits of devolving APD to Wales. He informed fellow MPs about the First Minister’s support for this, quoting his lecture to the London School of Economics in November last year in which First Minister said “air passenger duty is another tax that should, in my view be devolved.”
But in an extraordinary announcement this evening the First Minister’s and the Labour Welsh Government’s position was undermined by Labour’s own Treasury shadow ministers.
Speaking after the vote, Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards said:
“The devolution of APD as recommended by the cross-party Silk Commission has been omitted from the Wales Bill currently going through Parliament. That is why we pushed another vote today during the Finance Bill.
“The vote was a test of the authority and credibility of the First Minister and the ability of the Labour Welsh Government to follow through on its rhetoric.
“The First Minister has repeatedly said that his Welsh Government is in favour of devolving APD. But that position has been blown apart by his own party’s shadow Treasury ministers who said the Labour party is yet to be convinced of the merits of devolving APD.
“How can a party which has just bought an international airport not want full control of that asset and the revenue it could bring for the Welsh economy?
“As I said during the debate: if the First Minister’s own party colleagues don’t take him seriously, then why should the people of Wales? The authority and credibility of the First Minister is in tatters.
“I fear tonight’s revelation will seriously undermine the Welsh government’s negotiations with the UK Treasury to see job creating levers devolved to Wales.
“The overwhelming majority of the Welsh people who support our position are again left wanting by Labour’s rank hypocrisy.
“Plaid Cymru is united in our fight to improve the Welsh economy. It is clearer than ever that only Plaid Cymru is prepared to put Wales first.”
Notes to Editor:
Just 9 MPs supported the devolution of APD. Coalition MPs opposed and Labour MPs abstained.
In his lecture to the London School of Economics on 8th November 2012, First Minister Carwyn Jones said:
“Air passenger duty is another tax that should, in my view be devolved. While London struggles with where to build additional airport capacity, we in Wales face a very different problem. Our national airport in Cardiff has not enjoyed the growth in passenger numbers and destinations that we need to help drive economic growth. Devolution of air passenger duty would give us a useful tool to incentivise the growth of Cardiff airport and other smaller facilities, such as Anglesey in north Wales. APD has already been devolved to Northern Ireland for long-haul flights; at a minimum, I believe Wales should have parity.”
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