Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Air taxes

I was in Ireland for the weekend, and was rather stunned to read on the front page of the Sunday Telegraph a report suggesting the Tories were going to propose rather punitive taxes on "excessive" air travel. The suggestion is that we'd each be "allowed" one short haul flight a year.

There are a couple of issues with this proposal. My family are in Ireland, so I suppose I could take the boat over instead - of course, I'll spend the day driving to Holyhead to meet the ferry. But if I look around at the group of people I work with - in my own team alone - we have people with family in India, Ghana, Nigeria, Barbados, Australia and Germany. Four of us are predominately UK/Ireland based, but as I've noted before, my wife is from Singapore.

So what exactly are we supposed to do when we want to visit our families? And no, the standard "now you've an excuse not to visit the mother-in-law" joke doesn't work when I actually enjoy going!


Anonymous said...

The practical impact of such ill thought out legislation would be to gradually reduce the number of people who’s family lived at any great distance from where they worked.

It would probably be a huge disincentive to European workers in the UK for instance, thus quite possibly against European Law.

It could possibly be argued it was also racist.

Phil A

Anonymous said...

The reason that people live far from work or from their extended family is because the ease of travel has made it practical to do so.

As someone who lives on the Liverpool Street-Colchester corridor, you should recognise the truth of that statement.

If the cost of travel rose substantially without government intervention you would either move closer to work, get a different job or absorb the decline in living standard. In the same way, your choice to live a distance from your extended families is a reflection of the relative ease of travel compared to a few generations ago and consequently a price hike would be a disincentive for others to move so far from home to obtain work.

That's not to argue for Mr Cameron's initiative. I am perhaps too cynical to believe that politicians view global warming as just another opportunity to aggradise more power and income.

Wibble said...

Anonymous you write:

As someone who lives on the Liverpool Street-Colchester corridor, you should recognise the truth .... ease of travel has made it practical to do so.

You obviously haven't been taking the train on that line lately :)

Joking aside, my point criticising the policy still stands. A huge number of people working in the UK who are regarded as vital to the UK economy and society (be they investment bankers from NYC or nurses from the Philippines would be adversely affected by this decision).

The consequences for the NHS if the Filipino nurses and Sri Lankan midwives decided that the hike in airline costs was too much of a disincentive to stay in the UK doesn't bear thinking about.

Wonga Wallah said...

The supposedly 'green', emotive restrictions on travel are nonsense. The human race simply will not turn the clock back and be happy to stay within 10 miles of their birthplace for all their natural days.

Far more likely is that major corporations will hold off putting new technologies until there are sufficient tax breaks to make it worth their while. There will be a replacement for fossil fuels. It might bring its own problems, but market forces will produce it once oil becomes too rare/too heavily taxed to be cost effective for the likes of Shell or BP. Or rather, their shareholders, which is probably all of us, if we have pensions.