Page last updated at 18:43 GMT, Thursday, 10 November 2011

Members debate: Air Discount Scheme changes

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur told MSPs the exclusion of business travel from the Air Discount Scheme (ADS) would "erode business competitiveness" during a members debate on 10 November 2011.

Mr McArthur called for an urgent review of the changes.

ADS provides a discount of 40% on the core air fare on eligible routes.and aims to tackle the problem of high air fares for the remotest communities in the Highlands and Islands.

Residents from Colonsay, Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles, Islay, Jura, Caithness and North West Sutherland can apply for membership.

Mr McArthur told parliament the reasons given by ministers for cutting the business discount "don't stack up" as the benefit did not contravene EU rules and there had been other examples, like the removal of the Forth bridge toll, where public money had benefitted private enterprise.

Scottish Labour MSP for Highlands and Islands David Stewart agreed with Mr McArthur's motion and urged the government to "stop blaming Europe and admit the cut was a simple cost cutting exercise."

Scottish Conservative MSP for Highlands and Islands Jamie McGrigor agreed it was "a matter of real disappointment" that the decisions was taken without consultation.

Transport Minister Keith Brown responded saying the European Commission wasn't concerned with the business exclusion from the scheme.

He emphasised that the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS) continued to provide support to Scotland's business community.

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