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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 January 2007, 00:34 GMT
Brown rebuked over air duty hike
Ryanair plane
The rise will come into effect from 1 February
Chancellor Gordon Brown has been rebuked by MPs after giving just eight weeks' notice of his decision to double air passenger duty.

The cross-party treasury committee said the "unusual" timing meant the Commons would not have a proper chance to consider the measure.

The duty will rise by between 5 and 40 from 1 February.

Check-ins are braced for possible chaos as some airlines will add the duty to tickets bought before the announcement.

The committee said immediate tax increases were acceptable to pre-empt avoidance measures or activity that could distort the market.

But it said air passenger duty did not fall into those categories.

It noted that when the last significant increase in air passenger duty was announced in 2000, more than a year's notice was given.

"As a general rule, we consider that, where increases in rates of duties or taxes are proposed in the pre-budget report, those increases should not come into force until after the House of Commons has had the opportunity to come to a formal decision on the proposed increase following the budget," the committee said.

The increase was among a raft of green measures announced in the pre-budget report on 6 December 2006.

The chancellor has said the extra money raised through air passenger duty would be used to improve public transport.

But British Airways, Easyjet and Virgin Atlantic, have said the move should have created an incentive to invest in cleaner technology.

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