Not for the first time, bosses at Cardiff Airport have called for the devolution of air passenger duty. Now, as a question of principle, I’m not going to disagree. Since my starting point is that all taxes should be levied by the Assembly, not by Westminster, and that as long as the UK exists, financial transfers should be from devolved administrations to the centre rather than the other way around, I’m never going to disagree with the devolution of any taxation powers.
But I’m not sure that devolution of the tax is really what Roger Lewis is calling for here. What he’s calling for is a cut in the tax; devolution is merely the perceived means to an end. He clearly believes that the Welsh Government would be more likely to cut the tax than the UK Government. He may well be right on that – but putting specific taxes in the hands of whichever administration is most likely to set the rate to the advantage of the organisation you represent isn’t the same as supporting devolution, let alone a particularly rational way of sharing powers across the UK, or of planning the public finances.Personally, I’m not at all sure that cutting air passenger duty is the right thing to do. It is clearly intended to boost traffic and passenger numbers at Cardiff airport – but is encouraging more flying really what we want to do? For those running an airport, it might well be, but I’m not at all sure that it’s a good fit with the environmental policies being put forward by the government.