Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Tuesday, 16 October 2012 16:51 UK

Air Passenger Duty Bill: Second Stage

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said Northern Ireland was "clearly hardest hit" by the effects of domestic air passenger duty of all the UK regions, on 16 October 2012.

The minister was bringing the second stage of the Air Passenger Duty (APD) Bill to the house.

He explained the background to the bill, which followed a perceived threat to Northern Ireland's only direct long-haul flight to the United States, the Belfast - Newark route.

This was the direct result of lower rates of APD payable on similar flights from Dublin Airport.

The bill, if passed, would devolve powers to vary the level of long-haul APD rates to the Stormont Executive.

Turning to the matter of short-haul APD, the minister said Northern Ireland was hardest hit by this tax due to the lack of road and rail connections to other parts of the UK.

He explained that the cost of devolving domestic APD could be as much as £60m to £90m.

"There may be better ways to spend this money," Mr Wilson said.

Daithi McKay of Sinn Fein, chairman of the Assembly's Finance Committee, said there was a misconception that APD was a minor matter compared to the proposed devolution of powers to vary rates of corporation tax.

The TUV's Jim Allister noted that the reduction in APD had not resulted in any reduction in fares on the Newark route.

The second stage of the Air Passenger Duty Bill was passed on an oral vote.

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