Ahead of today’s (Tues 2 July) cross-party debate on the devolution of Air Passenger Duty (APD) in the Senedd, Plaid Cymru has said that the Secretary of State for Wales is blocking power over the tax being transferred to Wales.
Today’s debate, tabled by the Welsh Government with support from Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Conservatives, calls on the UK Government to devolve APD to the Senedd by 2021.
But Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Economy and Finance Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM has pointed to Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns’ poor voting record on devolving APD, and said that the Secretary of State himself is standing in the way of devolution.
In a September 2016 debate on the Wales Bill, Mr Cairns voted against devolving APD. During Welsh Questions earlier that year, he refused to commit to devolving APD, saying that it was a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Previously, he voted against devolving responsibility for setting the rate of APD in Finance Bill debates in April 2013 and April 2014.
Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate last year, former Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb said that he had failed to persuade former prime minister David Cameron and former chancellor George Osborne of the case for devolving APD.
Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Economy and Finance Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said:
“Today’s cross-party motion is a demonstration that the devolution of air passenger duty is the will of the Senedd, and we are pleased to support the motion.
“No matter what our Senedd says, however, it appears to me that the Secretary of State for Wales is standing in the way of devolution here.
“On three occasions, Alun Cairns has voted against devolving APD, and when questioned, avoided committing to devolving it – hiding, instead, behind the Treasury.
“His predecessor as Welsh Secretary said that he had failed to persuade David Cameron and George Osborne of the case for devolving APD.
“I would say that the incumbent Welsh Secretary’s record on this issue indicates that he himself is unconvinced.
“Today’s Senedd vote should be a signal to Mr Cairns: get out the way of devolution, because the will of this Senedd is clear.
“It should also be a wake-up call for the Conservatives – they’re supporting today’s motion, so they need to have a word with their Welsh Secretary to get him to stop blocking it.”