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Labour could raise fuel and flight taxes

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Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald called for a transport policy that is fair for users and taxpayers.

Another freeze on fuel duty was announced in October 2018 (Lewis Whyld/PA)

Fuel and flight taxes could be increased under a Labour government, shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald has indicated.

He claimed freezing duty on those modes of transport while increasing bus and rail fares is “not a sensible approach”.

In a speech to the Institute for Government in central London, Mr McDonald called for transport policy to be fair for users and taxpayers.

He has commissioned Phil Goodwin, emeritus professor at University College London and the University of the West of England, to consider what a “social contract for transport” between the government and the public should contain.

Mr McDonald said: “Consider these points about where the burden falls on transport users.

“Fuel duty frozen since 2010 at a cost of more than £50 billion; air passenger duty (APD) in aviation broadly frozen over a similar period; rail and bus fares up by more than a third.

“This is not a sensible approach to transport policy.”

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Andy McDonald
Andy McDonald (Peter Byrne/PA)

Fuel duty is charged at 57.95p per litre of fuel sold.

APD is levied on airline passengers aged 16 and over who are departing from UK airports.

The rate for long-haul passengers is £78 in economy and £156 in premium seats, with short-haul trips charged at £13 in economy and £26 in premium.

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No duty is paid on direct long-haul flights from Northern Ireland.

Motoring and aviation groups have called for duty on fuel and flights to be cut, but environmental campaigners say the levels should be increased.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We are investing record amounts in our transport infrastructure, have frozen fuel duty for motorists for nine years, and have ended Labour’s inflation-busting rail fare rises.

“Today, Labour re-announced their plan for a war on motorists with massive fuel tax rises and have announced new plans for unfair tax rises on holidaymakers and business travellers.

“Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party are ideologically obsessed with higher and higher taxes. Labour neither care about nor understand Britain’s businesses, motorists or passengers.”

AA president Edmund King said motorists “support reasonable measures to improve air quality” but claimed a hike in fuel duty would be “seen as an attack on the economy”.

He added: “We need to promote incentives for drivers to switch to greener vehicles rather than looking at measures to tax them more.”

Mr McDonald said the transport sector will face carbon reduction targets under a Labour government to tackle climate change.

He accused the Department for Transport (DfT) of paying “lip service to climate change” as he said Labour would allocate spending in a way that shows “climate change really matters”.

He said: “Labour want to see the department set a carbon budget consistent with the aspirations of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“Moreover, Labour wants each of the sectors – rail, road, aviation and maritime – to have carbon reduction targets in line with that departmental budget.

“The next Labour government intends to drive a green industrial revolution.”

The Paris Agreement of 2015 was a global commitment to keep temperatures “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels.

A Labour Party spokeswoman said: “Labour is not pledging to increase fuel duty.”

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