Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I Think it was Gummer who ate the Burger - Not His Daughter

John Gummer should have been pensioned off years ago. Indeed, I thought he had been. Remember the picture of feeding his daughter Cordelia a burger to prove that they were safe from Mad Cow Disease? Hers may have been CJD free, but if press reports are correct, his policy proposals on taxing airlines out of the country make me wonder if the burger he was eating wasn't somehow contaminated.

What sane politician would actually try to cap ALL airport expansion in the three main airports in the country? John Gummer was Environmeent Secretary in John Major's government, which did all it could to encourage such expansion. There's nothing like a sinner who repenteth, eh? If his madcap scheme was ever put into effect just watch as business drains away from this country to Schiphol, Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt. They must think Britain is going soft in the head.

In addition to preventing these - and presumably other - airports from expanding, he wants to take the first step to abolishing all domestic flights by putting VAT on them. If I thought he wanted to stop there I wouldn't be so worried, but make no mistake, he agrees with Tim Yeo that domestic flights should be done away with completely (apart from the ones Yeo takes to play golf, of course). There is a slight problem, though, in that we don't have the rail (or indeed road) capacity to replace those flights.

And this is the most comical bit of all. The domestic flight slots which would be freed up would be handed to long haul airlines, thereby actually INCREASING air pollution and the airlines' carbon footprint. I realise that long haul flights are supposed to have a smaller average carbon footprint, but if there are more of them it would surely increase.

These proposals are gesture politics of the worst sort. They give the impression of being highly enviornmentally friendly in order to add weight to the VOTE BLUE GO GREEN image, but in reality they are right out of the Liberal Democrat manual of looney tune policies.

If you stop any development of the big three airports all that will happen is that trade will be transfered to overseas hubs like Schiphol. People will then take short haul flights back to London - or - and it's a big or - they may just not bother and transfer their business to a city with good transport links.

I'm tired of politicians of all parties thinking that taxes are the answer to everything. The Conservatives say that increases in green taxes will be offset by tax cuts elsewhere, but it's clear that this won't be the case for everyone. The answer to so many environmental questions is to provide incentives not punishments. Why is it that so few politicians 'get' this?

These proposals will damage the economy of London and the South East, reduce economic activity and lead to job losses. There's nothing Conservative about that. It's the economics of the puerile to suggest that airports who are taxced won't pass the cost onto the customer. So the dear old tax payer is hit with a good old double whammy.

As Iain Murray of the CEI has written: "Giving domestic flight slots to international flights will either cause passengers to take alternative trips (eg London to Schipol, Schipol to Newcastle rather than just London to Newcastle) or put yet more stress on an already straining rail infrastructure. In addition, reducing the attractiveness of short-haul flights will cause serious problems for regional airports. It is unlikely to increase the Conservative Party’s standing in the regions and may be regarded as yet another example of Londonocentric thinking by the Tories."
Also among Gummer's plans is a proposal to tax 4x4 vehicles off the road (pray tell us what Gummer and Zak Goldsmith drive please) even though their carbon emissions are often less than smaller cars.

There are (thankfully) two sensible proposals among those reported in the Evening Standard. One is the Single Flight Tax, which would replace Air Passenger Duty and charge airlines for the CO2 emissions used per flight. This would encourage airlines to fill their flights rather than fly with half empty planes. The second is to break up BAA's big three airports.

Let me make one thing very clear. If by some remote misfortune the Conservative leadership decides to adopt Gummer's mad proposals on airport expansion I will continue to argue until I am blue in the face that they are wrong, wrong wrong. And if by some remote chance I happen to be a Conservative candidate at the next election, you won't find me changing my mind. Airports are vital to our national economy and so is their managed expansion. And I cannot understand anyone who calls themselves a Conservative could believe otherwise.

Now, moving on, I swear to you, it's not April 1st but the LibDems have announced one of their loonier ideas today too. They want to abolish all petrol cars by... wait for it, 2050. They also want to hit business by imposing tolls on road freight. And they're trumping the Tories by wanting to impose VAT on ALL flights, not just domestic flights.

And to cap it all, it seems West Ham are about to sign Adriano from Inter Milan!

I need a lie down.


Daily Referendum said...

I've heard that the LibDems are also going to put a stop to Elephant hunting in Grimsby by 2049.

Anonymous said...

really Iain, stop the Westham or whatever they are called comments. Apparently 75% of people in this country has no interest in football and would rather visit a museum or art gallery. Go figure. We, apparently, neither go to matches nor watch "match of the day". Us. 75% of 60 million. Sod off. We really couldn't give a....

Anonymous said...

"What sane politician would actually try to cap ALL airport expansion in the three main airports in the country?"

Well, if it means ending the ability of the state to force private owners of land to sell that land against their will then it's a good thing. I have no time for the anti-aircraft Green lobby but nor do I have time for those who believe in kicking people out of their homes in the name of economic growth.

Consistent libertarians should oppose government regulation AND compulsory purchase.

Anonymous said...

ugly game said it all - how come every moral crisis in this country seems to involve a picture of a tragically kidnapped/abducted/shot kiddy in a football shirt? Grow up.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Tories should put a supertax on all private jet flights instead? Sounds sensible.

There is not the infrastructure in place in the UK to support any further airport expansion.

The Tory answer to everything at the moment appears to be 'marriage will solve the problem!' Don't be surprised if 'marriage' finds its way into this proposal too. :)

BJ said...

Interestingly, I know the former MAFF press official who was handling Gummer on that burger-eating expedition trip. He was last seen being quite the most useless provincial police press officer I've ever encountered.

Anonymous said...

looks like if your interest in footer was nationwide you'd be the lib-dems mate

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more with you Iain.

It is absolute nonsense almost as useless as the "let happiness win the day" slogan.

When do we have some sensible normal stuff like how to grow the economy and compete against massive, well educated and ambitious population blocs?

Anonymous said...

I doubt the petrol car will still exist by 2050.

Anonymous said...

You are right. If domestic flights are restricted (although they will presumably have to leave untouched sensitive services such as Highlands and Islands flights)the slots will be snapped up for international use, increasing emissions because of the greater sector length.

And although transforming Air Passenger Duty into effectively a tax on empty seats will reduce emissions per passenger by encouraging higher load factors, it is unlikely that it will reduce emissions overall - to do that flight numbers would have to be cut, and it would require a very large tax to do that.

Gummer's task force was told all this, but they had no doubt already decided that green taxes to fund child benefits would be a crowd-pleaser and they werre not going to let inconvenient truths get in their way.

Just the thing for restoring trust in politics...

Mountjoy said...

I agree that the Tories need to be very cautious about airport policies as it is politically sensitive. Coincidentally, I only fly about once a year, but today when booking a flight online (for work purposes) BA offered me a link to a carbon offseting firm, which I gladly completed. I felt less guilty having offset my carbon.

But the wonder in the UK, the world's 5th (or whatever it is now) largest economy, is that we need domestic flights at all. Who flies domestically in France? Had it not been for underinvestment in British Rail when it was a State-Owned Enterprise, we probably would have proper TGV-style high-speed railways. It is a pity we don't.

Anonymous said...

Iam begining to think our Dave has lost the plot,I don't think he'll be our next PM with madcap ideas coming out from his opinion makers,god help us as we are going to need it.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to see what Gummer is trying to achieve.

Handing domestic slots to international air carriers is hardly a green initiative.

Taxing people out of the air and onto trains is barely possible, given the enormous price of rail travel and the cheap cost of flying. The taxes would need to be astronomical.

Capping airport expansion would delight the greens, but exposes the dilemma of vote blue go green. Quite often, you just cannot have it both ways.

Encouraging budget airlines to fill up planes is not necessary; they must do this to make money.

Probably all these ideas will be canned. Look out for more green stunts from Dave if they are.

Anonymous said...

Dear Iain,

You seem a very sensible type and I enjoy your blog very much BUT please stop going on about the "CO2 footprint" thing? its a failed theory and a load of claptrap! CO2 does NOT cause global warming it follows it, do you see the difference? Global temperatures have fallen since 1998 NOT risen and the data that the econutters are using is wrong(see greenie watch)!
Airports are a huge employer of people and the commisars want to destroy the industry on the say so of vested interest groups with the collective IQ of a stunned slug! IF the British international hubs are taxed to death then guess who will benefit? France/Germany/Holland will become the hubs and they will get all the jobs that goes with it! Perhaps THAT is why the attacks on British airports are getting worse!
I can understand a ,thick as two short planks, leftist/socialist being in love with the CO2 fairy story BUT you are an intelligent and handsome stud! the socialist craving to tax a profitable industry to death WILL be the death of our country!

PS You are still my hero!

Mountjoy said...

This 'leak' is bad timing as we'd all been attacking Labour, and now a lot of people have turned their fire on the Tories over the Gummer-Goldsmith Report ... but at least Ming seems to have stolen the headlines today over Iraq so maybe the public won't notice this leak!

Here most discussion seems to be over at the EU Referendum thread anyway.

Anonymous said...

Can we get away from this ludicrous idea that politics is really just a form of tax-planning?

The conservative approach should really be to move towards flat taxes, where the purpose of taxation is simply to raise the revenue required by the government in a way which distorts the economy as little as possible.

It is most unlikely that taxation can have any discernable impact on climate.

Anonymous said...

Some fifty years ago when the Fees Office at the House of Commons were questioning those MPs who were travelling to their Constituencies by this new form of transport called air travel, it asked them to nominate the main railway station or failing that the nearest railway Station to their Constituency. The late Joe Grimmond, then the MP for Orkney & Shetland correctly replied, “Bergen”

Now I’m always aware that Gummer was a European fanatic. But that he wishes to damage a vital British Industry such as Aviation and Aviation travel to the benefit of Schipol, CDG and even Dublin makes me wonder how much of a Quisling these Euro-fanatics are.

If one lives in say Orkney, Shetland, Northern Ireland, Stornaway, the Uists or Islay, then air travel is vital and it is domestic within the UK. A tax on air travel is a tax on these voters. Secondly just as for many of us, the benefits of cheap air travel barrive, we find the rug being pulled from under us by people such as Gummer and Yeo who can clearly afford air travel even at punitive taxation rates. But of course both over the years have acquired reputations as bumbling hypocrites anyway. Gummer should stick to eating burgers and Yeo should stick to shagging his interns

Newmania said...

Mountjoy carbon offsetting is a myth IMHO..what happens when the trees die ?

I don`t like the tone you adopt here Iain. You are far to dismissive and appear to be unaware of the other side of the story…. I agree with you on the Standards ideas but taking the curtailment of airport expansion seriously at least would be the best thing the Conservative Party could do . You are making arguments that could be made for any ridiculous situation , ie that it will be difficult for some to change it and anyway it will be unenforceable. I think we should at least be levelling the playing field and at the moment air travel is treated as a cosseted necessity whereas rail travel is kicked to death. There are just as many people against increasing the size of airports locally as for it , dare I say it , more . You wonder what Zaky G drives well allow me to wonder how close to the noise and ugliness of airport you live .

Guess One - Nowhere bloody near ?

Am I right or am I right ?

Lets look \t the pros and cons in further detail

On Heathrow -Flight paths to cater for the new runway would cut across a swath of London and the South-east that has previously avoided being directly over-flown by planes, including Maidenhead, Slough, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Chelsea and Notting Hill - home to the Conservative Party leader, David Cameron. At least 150,000 households will find themselves directly under flight paths for the first time. And figures seen by The Independent suggest the number of people who are subjected to aircraft noise levels above the 57 decibels, considered by the Government to be the "beginning of community annoyance", will rise from 375,000 to 535,000 if the proposals go ahead. Planes screeching at 57 decibels all day every day is hell - but it's far worse than 57 dbls because the government's noise measurement is an average figure. so real aircraft noise is comprised of, say, half at up to 90 dbls and the rest much lower. That means being unable to hear your radio at full blast when you're in the bath .That means schools having to pause their lessons every time a plane flies overhead. It means such constant disruption to lessons that it puts children who live under flight paths academically behind those who don't. More children and adults suffer from asthma too.A Japanese researcher has found that little children living near busy airports have raised blood pressure. The Heathrow Night Flights court case banned night flights between 11pm and 5am because sleep loss studies which wired some of them up during their sleep measured that the people of Heathrow are woken up:16 TIMES EACH NIGHT.


50% of people don't fly in any one year. 12% of UK's pop have never flown. Why should non flying taxpayers subsidise multi-billionaires to the tune of hundreds of pounds extra tax p.a. each non-flying taxpayer ?What possible justification is there for giving the aviation industry the huge and unique privilege of £billions in subsidies each year? Those subsidies were solely designed to help the industry recover from the damage done to it during WW2.What level of tax and VAT subsidy we talking about here? ABOUT £20 BILLION A YEAR!
And there was me thinking you believed in tax cuts. ?!!!
STANSTED 1996: 3 million passengers p.a.
2007: 24 million passengers P.a 2030: 50 million forecast

Of course there are limits on aircraft noise - but do you how they calculate these .They average them. So you can get half the flights at 90 decibels - so loud that you can't work, think or even hear your radio when you are in the bath - and half at significantly less that number of dbls and the airlines meet the requirements.

STANSTED: SECOND RUNWAY- Enviromentally devastating.
Stansted would be:BIGGER THAN HEATHROWWould destroy - as in demolish and concrete over - communities that have developed over centuries and vast swathes of unspoilt countryside and ancient woodlands and prime farmland.
Requiring the bulldozing of: 73 homes, including 18 listed buildings 4 county wildlife sites21 hectares of woodland386 hectares of special landscape value
47 hectares of high quality landscape character area5.2km of rivers Two Stansted Public Inquiries and a Royal Commission in the course of the last 30 years have ruled against Stansted expanding beyond a single runway, most recently in the 1980S;The words of the Inspector, Graham Eyre QC (later Sir Graham Eyre) were as follows:
"I would not be debasing the currency if I express my judgement that the development of an airport at Stansted, with a capacity in excess of 25mppa and requiring the construction and operation of a second runway and all the structural and operational paraphernalia of a modern international airport as we know the animal in 1984, would constitute nothing less than:

Another problem re Heathrow expansion is how very vulnerable it will make Heathrow in a recession. Airports are among the first areas to suffer in such downturns because holidays are one the first spending cuts we make.During the last big recession (early 1990s, if I remember correctly) Heathrow Airport sacked 25% of it's workforce.The effect on Heathrow was devastating. Small shops and airport suppliers went bust and Heathrow stagnated.Far better for a town to have a good mix of stable SME employers than to be so dependent on one giant corporation.So why does Gordon B-Ruin keep stamping on SMEs? And Why is he not pressing the EU to introduce VAT for Europe's aviation industry? The EU is dead keen to curtail the massive carbon wasteland of aviation - it's to Mr B-Ruin huge shame that he's not encouraging them.

Aviations Contribtuion
"The Government’s estimate of aviation’s contribution to the economy is based on a report largely paid for by the aviation industry."

"The report, The Contribution of Aviation to the UK Economy was carried out by consultants Oxford Economic Forecasting in 1999 with an update in 2006."

"Nor did it factor into its calculations the HUGE COST AVIATION IMPOSES ON SOCIETY & THE ENVIRONMENT, which are estimated to be:AROUND £16 billion a year."And it skated over the point that UK air tourists take more money out than foreign visitors bring in –THERE IS A TOURISM DEFICT TO THE UK ECONOMY ESTMATED AT AROUND
£17 BILLION A YEAR[double that as industry size doubles]"Independent experts argue that the report over-estimates the number of jobs aviation expansion would create. "And airport watch has not, I believe, included the cost of infrastructural subsidies or of FLOODING - which could be enormous. So, TAXPAYER SUBSIDIES TO AVIATION ARE NOW ESTIMATED TO COST US TAYPAYERS AROUND £42 BILLION A YEAR.AND THESE SUBSIDIES WILL BE HUGELY INCREASED IF EXPANSION PROCEEDS.
Weigh that against aviations:£10.2 billion a year to UK GDP p180,000 direct UK jobs Exports £6.6 billion services paInvesting £2.5 billion a year in the UK pa£2.5 billion to the Exchequer pa.

Growth -B-ruin's passenger growth forecasts are:
2002: 189 million passengers
2020: 460 million passengers

And freight tonnage is forecast to increase from 2.2 million to 5 million.Bear in mind that 12% of us never fly and 50% fly only once every 2 years.Who is going to make all of these extra flights,n? Who is going to consume all of that freight? What if we hit a major recession? There would be an awful lot of empty capacity.These forecasts are preposterous and hugely risky - unless B-ruin was looking in 2002 at frightening population forecasts for 2020. B-ruin predicates these forecasts on 3 ERRONEOUS ASSUMPTIONS:GDP growth averages 2.25% for 25 years!Air fares decrease 1% in real terms for the next 25 years! Aviation fuel prices stabilise at $25 a barrel in 2000 prices!Such forecasts are nothing short of insane. f there's an economic slow down and/or just one of the elements of this forecast fails, the whole aviation growth forecast and predict and provide approach comes tumbling down.So why has B-ruin used these bogus forecasts? I'd say because he has to in order to push through the rest of his agenda.The aviation policy is a smoke screen for his real agenda of continuous mass migration, partly in order to drive Conservatives out of Conservative constituencies and migrate in nulab voters.This expansionist aviation policy is not needed by anyone but B-ruin and nulab. It is to be a catalyst and excuse for massive house building projects largely in the SE which will damage Conservative voting areas and drive out and fragment Conservative supporters.

You have the wrong end of the stick Iain you think you are supporting business against the Greens but in fact you are supporting a state toy against real business and for the desecration of the country and its quality of life . I am certain I am at least as sceptical as you about climate change but environmental disaster you can see and the Oil running out is a fact.

So explain again why we should all be paying for this luxury disaster business that sucks in foreign nationals and runs at a loss. Do you seriously think that International business won’t get here .? … Don`t worry about it …..

I think you need to at least think a little about what we are doing with the expansion of air travel this is an interest8ing initiative and deserves better consideration. Politically it is getting real on Green issues for the first time and a real problem for Brown.

What about the conserving side of Conservatsim Iain , I hear little about it form you but to many Conservatives it is as important as as tax cuts immigration red tape and the rest of the menu ?

Newmania said...

PS I am sorry for that absurdly long post do please free to delete it ...too much information I `m sure.

Tim Leunig said...

Iain is right that the plan to tax aircraft, not passengers is a good one. It has been LibDem policy for years!

Anonymous said...

That CO2 is a greenhouse gas is not a matter of opinion, it is a matter of scientific fact.

Even the dimmest Tory will be able to follow this informative article in New Scientist, not a known hotbed of revolutionary thought.

Anonymous said...

All petrol cars will disappear by 2050 because there will be no petrol in 2050.

Greater Manchester Fabians said...

Good on you for making your point Iain, not all Tory readers of your blog will like what they read.


Anonymous said...

The problem with efforts aimed at getting us not to fly is that there's no realistic alternative.

We can all imagine various ways to reduce C02 emmissions associated with ground transport: denser cities to encourage walking, expanded public transport, car-pooling, congestion pricing, telecommuting, etc., etc., etc.,

But how is one realistically supposed to cross the Atlantic (never mind the Pacific) without the services of an airline? It's pretty clear to me that ground transport is going to have to shoulder more than its fair share of greenhouse gas curbs, in order to accommodate the inevitable (and, I would argue desirable) increase in air travel in the coming years. Air travel is one of key lubricants of the modern global economy. We tamper with it at our economic peril.

Manfarang said...

Let them eat Veggie burgers!
Meat production is enviromentally damaging.Vast areas of the Amazon rain forest have been lost to ranchers and for growing soya for animal feed.

James Higham said...

The answer to so many environmental questions is to provide incentives not punishments.

And not just environmental questions either.

Anonymous said...

You say we'll lose business to the foreign aviation industry.

Too late, Iain, we already have!

BAA, the owner of Britain's largest airports, Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick has been owned by **Spanish** construction firm Ferovial since 2006.

Aviation costs the taxpayer £42 billion of tax, VAT, health and environmental damage subsidy annually - even the 50% who don't fly in any one year are forced to pay it.

Now the taxpayer is forced to pour those billions in tax and VAT subsdies into a SPANISH company.

So a SPANISH company is soaking up £9 BILLION of UK taxpayers' Tax and VAT subsidies in order to make us an annual
£17 BILLION AVIATION TOURISM BALANCE OF PAYMENTS DEFICIT and do huge environmental damage to the tune of £16 BILLION pa.

Allow the aviation expansion Brown wants and you will double the above costs to the taxpayer, double the deficit produced and grotesquely increase the environmental damage in UK.

Auntie Flo'

Tapestry said...

John Selwyn Luddite

Anonymous said...

Iain, love you blogsite, hate your environmental stance. Not really sure what to do.

Guthrum said...

I always go via Schipol, because I live near one of Bristol's two airports, one has direct links to two motorways and an adjacent railway station linking the South-West and South Wales, the other is in the middle of the Countryside with no link to the M5 other than through a beleaguered village on a B road. Guess which one is the main airport for Bristol and which one is used by light aircraft and the odd plane needing overhaul at Rolls Royce. Got it in one ! Travelling to Stanstead/Gatwick/Luton and the dreaded Heathrow makes no economic and environmental sense to the rest of us who are not Londoncentric, that might just be the majority.

Blackacre said...

What comes first the business need or the hub airport? In my view, London is a success so that drives the transport need for Heathrow; the fact that Heathrow is a hub does not drive the traffic.

Also, what do transit passengers contribute to the UK economy save £1.50 for a poor Starbucks coffee whilst waiting. Schipol is welcome to this - lets save London for real visitors.

Finally, when will the airport lobby realise that expanding Heathrow has a limit. The third runway is to be small and there is no room for a 4th or 5th. How will it compete against the usual suspects then? It is in the wrong place and a new hub is needed if we are to have one.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how taxing domestic flights is going to damage the economy? At the moment we have a situation where we need to make room for more business travellers. The current solution being offered is to expand the London airports. Taxing domestic flights will price them out of the system. International business flights can take their slots, expanding the economy without the need for a bunch of fields and villages near Heathrow and Stansted to be concreted over. We could use the money we save to build high-speed rail links to replace the domestic flights. As Mountjoy said, its a wonder that we use planes to travel around Britain. There's simply no need when you consider the distances involved.

Anonymous said...

Very few people benefit from the fact that CO2 is buggering the planet up.
Whatever the eventual solution, cutting CO2 will be a pain for almost everyone in the world, whether we are taxed into changing our habits, rationed or whatever.

Iain, please explain why a majority of countries in the Western world are about to put themselves through the stress, strain and unpopularity of moving towards lower CO2 emissions.

Your answer, I expect, will be based on the idea that there's a conspiracy for countries across the world to tax their citizens more. I can only say that the levels of spending on "green" measures and mitigating the effects caused already and into the future will cost a fair bit: transport infrastructure (eg mag lev), new energy (eg nuclear fusion), increased health spending (respiratory illness etc), flood prevention and so on.
You used to be a lobbyist, come on, if Government's thought they could get away with pushing this issue under the carpet as you suggest, then you bet they would.
However, with the science such as it is, and the responsibility they have in Government, they cannot.
The Conservative Party needs to show that they'd be responsible in Government too, and these measures proposed by Gummer/Goldsmith should be accepted, albeit with a heavy, as an acknowledgment of task we have to combat climate change.

Yes, we’re got to have an even playing field and Government’s should work to get multilateral agreements in place, we shouldn’t act unilaterally. So all internal flights in the EU should pay VAT and a fuel duty, why not, I do when I drive.

The public are overwhelmingly in support of measures to reduce CO2 and fight climate change. I’d hate for my party to hold out like King Canute.

Anonymous said...

"The answer to so many environmental questions is to provide incentives not punishments"

You are wrong, though, Iain, in complaining that taxation shouldn't be used. The reflection of externalities in pricing is in perfect harmony with free market theory; consumers should be aware that what they purchase has a cost.

Anonymous said...

"I don't believe it !!"

Forsooth, Mr Dale truly is becoming the Victor Meldrew of this parish..

Anonymous said...

The last time Cameron touched this one it fell apart in a day or two.
Expect the same this time.

Anonymous said...

Newmania and others

I wish people would stop pulling off the web cod calculations that suit their preconceptions.

£9bn in subsidies? Have you seen how much taxpayers give to buses and railways? What tax concessions do they receive on ther fuel? Do they bear VAT or a passenger tax? Which of the three sectors
is a net contributor to the Exchequer?

Tourism deficit? Yes, our tourists spend more abroad than foreigners spend here. But the ONS stats do not take account of capital and regular expenditure by the UK travel industry overseas (a lot of it in countries whose economies would be crippled without tourism investment and expenditure); nor do they include the industry's UK contribution through suppliers, employment etc.

You can keep multiplying extreme estimates of subsidies and impacts as much as you like; but exaggeration only weakens your case.

Anonymous said...


'Planes are roughly comparable to cars,, in their fuel consumption per passenger mile,, just in terms of carbon dioxide output alone'


'Flying has the same climate changing effect as each passenger in the plane driving their own (smallish) car the same distance'

source: Aviation Environment Federation

About 22% of UK total energy is used by cars and 6% by domestic aviation. (Globally, aviation accounts for 1.6% of greenhouse gas emissions). Long haul flights are more fuel efficient, but conversely do more damage because pollution emissions happen largely high up in the atmosphere - not only CO2, but also water vapour and nitrogen oxides.

And Rolls Royce anticipates that aircraft engine fuel efficiency will further improve by 50% over the next few decades.

As usual, our leaders start everything at the wrong end - the consumer - instead of putting some of OUR tax money into making tghe aviation industry and its products more efficient and CO2 friendly.

Anonymous said...

A lot of foreign businesses have set up here to take advantage of Gordon's generous financial arrangements designed for the benefit of foreign crooks, embezzlers and fraudsters. If sensible regulation of airports would get rid of some of them so much the better. If they'd all go away there'd be more room at airports for the rest of us; less noise and atmospheric pollution; no need for more gobbling up of land. I was at Glasgow airport a few weeks ago and saw Abramovich leaving after the Celtic Chelsea match, the sole passenger of his cream coloured unmarked Boeing 767. Airport expansion wouldn't be necessary if we could get rid of these flying gin palaces. And I'd rather support British and EU farmers than see polluting planes flying in ceaselessly from sleazy non-EU farming conglomerates just to please the supermarkets.

Unknown said...

The public are overwhelmingly in support of measures to reduce CO2 and fight climate change.

No they aren't. They're about evenly divided on whether it is even happening.

strapworld said...

The sooner the Tory party rids itself of the Loonie Lefts within it..The Gummers especially then they may have a chance.

The best headlines, great newspaper support WHY? because Cameron is actually starting to sound like a TORY..so he will be classed as Right Wing. GREAT. Admit it. Accept it. Glory in it.
Right is right!

Gummer and Zak whatever should be thanked for their thought provoking report and forgotten.

You need MASS support. Deny people their foreign holidays and cheap flights and they will deny you their votes.


Anonymous said...

More London-centric nonsense from Dave and his Notting Hill chums. Yes, it might be questionable to fly from the hell that is Heathrow to Manchster/Edinburgh/Newcastle when the train is quicker. But if you live in the regions, airports like Southampton, Norwich, Bristol and Inverness are a necessity, not a luxury.

Try getting a train from Exeter to Aberdeen - fine if you want to lose two days out of your life but otherwise, fly it in 90 minutes. And as for what message this sends to people who do business in Belfast, God only know. Domestic does not equal London, Mr Gummer. I despair that we will ever turn this into a vote winner anywhere outside West London. Mad, mad, mad.

Anonymous said...

Since Gummer still believes in the Creation/Intelligent Design I don't think he has much credibility on any subject that involves even a trifle of scientific understanding.

Anonymous said...

"Mountjoy carbon offsetting is a myth"
But Felicity and I carbon offset all the time!!!!

Anonymous said...

Iain and Co, calm down.

"John Gummer should have been pensioned off years ago. Indeed, I thought he had been."
Well we all thought that.

"What sane politician would actually try to cap ALL airport expansion in the three main airports in the country?"
Any sane politician who believes in property rights and opposes state power.

"If his madcap scheme was ever put into effect just watch as business drains away from this country to Schiphol, Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt."
Oh come on.

"In addition to preventing these - and presumably other - airports from expanding, he wants to take the first step to abolishing all domestic flights by putting VAT on them."
You mean the VAT us road users have to pay?

"I realise that long haul flights are supposed to have a smaller average carbon footprint, but if there are more of them it would surely increase."
Why would an average CO2 footprint change? The total of all long haul flights would change, but not the average, presuming the extra long haul flights are to the same places as the current ones.

"They may just not bother and transfer their business to a city with good transport links."
We can cut taxes with the revenue from aviation taxes, that'll get them back and boost small firms too.

"The Conservatives say that increases in green taxes will be offset by tax cuts elsewhere, but it's clear that this won't be the case for everyone."
No, just the vast majority of us. I pay VAT on my fuel and car, fuel tax, road tax, a toll on the Dartford Crossing...why is aviation free of VAT?

"These proposals will damage the economy of London and the South East, reduce economic activity and lead to job losses."
And the tax cuts will boost the economy - nationwide.

"There's nothing Conservative about that."
Cutting business taxes?

"It's the economics of the puerile to suggest that airports who are taxced won't pass the cost onto the customer. So the dear old tax payer is hit with a good old double whammy."
The cost will be split between the consumer and company profits, in a ratio depending on the level of competition. How's it a double whammy when it's one tax on aviation, and then tax cuts for all tax payers?

"It is unlikely to increase the Conservative Party’s standing in the regions and may be regarded as yet another example of Londonocentric thinking by the Tories."
Iain Murray of the CE-what?

"One is the Single Flight Tax, which would replace Air Passenger Duty and charge airlines for the CO2 emissions used per flight."
Didn't you just say the consumer always pays?

"I will continue to argue until I am blue in the face that they are wrong, wrong wrong. And if by some remote chance I happen to be a Conservative candidate at the next election, you won't find me changing my mind."
You're ruling out seats near to Stansted, Gatwick and Heathrow then.

"I cannot understand anyone who calls themselves a Conservative could believe otherwise."
Ever heard of something called property rights?

Tax is being shifted away from families and businesses to aviation. Any tax harms the industry it's imposed upon, any tax cut helps the industry it's targetted at. Now pick, do you want to tax aviation or small businesses?

Small businesses are the foundation stone of the economy and need our help through lower taxes more than BAA or Ryanair, and politically there's more votes in them too.

Yes if the tax reduces flying it will net less revenue, but it's not going to have that bigger effect and any decrease will be offset by growth in the lower taxed small business sector.

I would also rather have lower personal taxation so I can decide where to spend my own money myself, rather than have the Govt subsidise aviation with VAT exemptions so I get slightly cheaper flights. I'd rather have more of my own money and more expensive flights, that way I'd have the choice. People can spend their own money better than Govt, and I bet that'll boost the British economy more than having cheaper flights.

Putting taxes on aviation will let us fund targetted tax cuts which, like in Canada, people notice more and swing voters our way more. A few headlines about Tory taxes on flying will be lost in the long run amid headlines on abolishing inheritance tax or cutting the standard tax rate etc. It will also let us target tax cuts that will boost growth more, such as stamp duty on shares. We should tax in a way that will damage growth least, and cut taxes in a way that boosts growth most, i.e. £1bln tax cut for small businesses will do more good than the harm done by a £1bln tax on aviation, and so making a net gain.

Airport expansion grossly infringes property rights, which are the basis of a free, capitalist country. It's not up to the Govt, BAA or any one of us here to tell people their property is being compulsary purchased for a runway. BAA may be private, but it is a monopoly that uses state powers to expand over other people's property. In my opinion that is State dictat, how very socialist.

Transit flights should be taxed the most. We gain nothing from someone landing here then flying off again. Then domestic flights, which could be better served by a high speed rail network (following existing roads and railways).

And why does everyone think "strivers" are only interested in cheap flights, as if their only interest in life is a cheap fortnight in the Costa? I think tax cuts on small businesses and families will be of more interest than making airlines pay VAT like the rest of us already do.

In a dream World there would be zero tax, constant good weather, an abudance of space and something decent to watch on television - it's not gonna happen! In the long run we can cut the total tax take by reducing waste and boosting growth, but we can't go into an election promising it otherwise it'll get seen as cuts to services. Any tax cuts must be funded. We must cut the taxes that have the biggest possitive net effect - and that's small bussinesses, not airlines. I'm not interested in it for green issues. I am interested in private property rights and tax cuts for businesses and families. Let's have an end to big government dictating and riding roughshot over local communities.

Current taxation has a detrimental effect on many businesses, businesses which will benefit from lower rates funded by taxes on aviation.

Anonymous said...

Iain I'm a fairly dry conservative but I really think you're wrong about green taxes vs positive incentives. There is plenty of evidence that green taxes are effective in changing behaviour - appealing to your own experience is not relevant. For example in aviation we are talking about reducing the growth of aviation from say 5% a year to 2% a year, not big changes but with a very large cumulative effect. And green taxes have the huge benefit that they raise revenues that can be used to cut other taxes on wealth creation and jobs. In contrast, incentives require revenue to raised elsewhere which creates worse distortions. In fact, even if you don't believe in man made climate change a switch towards green taxes makes sense on economic grounds - similar to the VAT switch in the early 80s.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't one of the parties simply offer a subsidy to people to double glaze their windows. I am sure the fuel saved would easily offset that burned by flying on holiday.

The fact is that people like travelling -it adds to human happiness, losing energy through the windows provides little personal satisfaction but our politicians have a puritan tendancy and their problem is not with burning carbon per se but the enjoyment associated with it.

Ian Duncan-Smith's report was excellent but I am afraid that Redwood and Gummer's subsequent reports are making the Tories look flaky by association.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4.40

What evidence do you have that taxing aviation will improve its environmental performance? At what rate would you have to set your tax to make any difference?

By the way, it is passenger numbers, not emissions, that are growing at c.5%.

Anonymous said...

What is Gummer on?
For the pseudo-ecologists of all parties giving their ha'porth, this seems to be about voting for unilateral disarmament. That was such a fantastic idea in the arms race - I'm sure if we'd done it the Cold War would have just collapsed and Russia would have been amenable to all our concerns.
Bring down Britain's carbon emissions to zero, put us back in the Stone Age, and wait to see the happy smiles on the faces of the Russians (and the Chinese and Indians and...)

Anonymous said...

Great to see the climate-change denying 'flat-earthers' spouting yet more crap, as it will be more humble pie to enjoy watching them it in the long run...

Hannibal said...

Phew, so Cameron has pledged to support decent airport provision for all, and here was me thinking I'd have to go off at the deep end like you!

Good to see that even readers of the Independent can see sense on this one:


Sums up the problem with university scientists.