A CALL for control over Air Passenger Duty to be devolved to Wales has been backed unanimously by AMs.

Air Passenger Duty, or APD, is a tax paid on flights outside the UK, calculated based on the distance of the destination.

Although it is devolved to Scotland and Northern Ireland, and an inquiry by Westminster's cross-party Welsh Affairs Committee unanimously recommended Wales should follow suit, the UK Government has shown no sign of passing the same powers to Cardiff Bay.

AMs debated the situation in the Senedd yesterday, and were unanimous in supporting the devolution of powers.


Presenting the motion, finance minister Rebecca Evans said there was "no justification" for Wales not to be given the same powers as Scotland and Northern Ireland.

"It's clear to me that devolving APD would be entirely consistent with the UK Government's approach to devolving taxes within existing areas of devolved competence," she said.

"Yet the UK Government's evidence to the inquiry highlighted its concerns that Bristol Airport would be significantly impacted if Welsh Government were to reduce or abolish APD, despite independent peer-reviewed evidence to the contrary.

"This is clearly not a sufficient or appropriate basis to limit the devolution of powers to Wales, which would be of benefit to our citizens."

Ms Evans added that, if powers were devolved, rates would not be changed without consultation.

Conservative Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay also backed the motion, saying handing the powers to the Welsh Government was "overdue".

He said: "Air passenger duty would fit into the jigsaw of taxes that have been devolved - income tax, landfill disposal tax, stamp duty.

"This is a matter of parity, I believe. Scotland has this power, as we know, Northern Ireland has had the tax devolved to it, so it has become increasingly difficult to see why Wales shouldn't have similar devolution of tax here.

"There are, of course, arguments against it, and some of them are flimsy, others are worth looking at.

"They're well versed. We keep hearing of the threat to Bristol Airport - that comes up again and again when we have these discussions. I think that threat is probably overstated given that regional airports around the UK and Cardiff Airport in Wales do serve different populations."

And Plaid Cymru's Rhun ap Iorwerth said: "In a situation where Scotland already has seen APD devolved, when Northern Ireland has APD devolved, it seems to me that the barriers are there to stop Wales in some way gaining that kind of advantage that could come from the devolution of something that is very much in the spirit, I think, of devolution and the direction of travel for devolution as a whole."

The motion had support across the board, with the Brexit Party's Mark Reckless said "the case has been made for this tax to be devolved".

But, although independent AM Michelle Brown said she supported the devolution of the power, she said she was concerned the Welsh Government would use it as "a cash cow" and increase rates.

Responding to the debate, Ms Evans said APD revenues in Wales are about £9m a year.

"So, there's absolutely no prospect of it being the kind of cash cow that Michelle suggested that it might be," she said.

"Actually, our interest here really is about unlocking the potential of (Cardiff) Airport."

No vote was held as no AM indicated they wished to vote against the motion, therefore it was passed unanimously.