The SNP has challenged the UK Government to include plans to devolve taxes on flights to Holyrood in the Queen’s Speech.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has written to Chancellor George Osborne asking him to agree to the transfer of responsibility for Air Passenger Duty (APD) to the Scottish Parliament.
The Scottish Government and campaigners have repeatedly called for the duty to be devolved or scrapped to boost the economy north of the border, where outgoing and incoming tourists get hit twice by the levy if they change planes in London.
The bosses of Scotland’s three main airports – Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen – have warned that they risked losing two million customers over the next three years because of APD.
Ms Sturgeon’s letter follows a recommendation in the Conservatives commission on the future of devolution this week that Scots are given the powers.
The Queen will today outline the coalition’s legislative programme for the final year of this parliament.
It has been confirmed that measures in the speech will include giving publicans new rights under a statutory code, and will set up an independent adjudicator with the power to resolve industry disputes.
The programme is also expected to feature a limited form of recall for MPs if they have been found to have broken the Commons code of conduct, as well as plans for the introduction of Dutch-style collective pensions, and confirmation of tax free childcare proposals.
In her letter to the chancellor, Ms Sturgeon said: “Given this unequivocal recommendation and the broad support there is for transferring responsibility for APD to the Scottish Parliament, I very much hope you will act swiftly on the Commission’s recommendation and use the opportunity of the Queen’s Speech to make a positive announcement that will be broadly welcomed in Scotland.”
Meanwhile, more than 60 MPs have also called for cuts to VAT for the tourism sector.
Alan Reid, Liberal Democrat MP for Argyll and Bute, said: “This is a very competitive international industry. With many people struggling to make ends meet, price is an important factor in their choice of holiday, and Britain’s tourism businesses have to cope with a VAT rate double, or even more than double, the rate in Spain, Germany, France, Italy and the Republic of Ireland.”
On the changes to the regulation of pubs, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “British pubs are often the centre of our community, a place where we meet friends, watch sport and enjoy a Sunday roast – they are a national treasure and the envy of the world.
“They also contribute billions to our economy every year. But for too long, landlords who are tied to larger pub companies have struggled to make ends meet – over half earning less than the minimum wage.
“The self regulatory approach hasn’t worked, so these new rules will give fairer treatment for landlords so that they can keep your local pub going strong.”