Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary is reported to be planning to introduce a new travel surcharge for people coming to the UK to pay for more Border guards, if they ever get back into Government at Westminster. The levy would be on visitors coming from up to 55 countries – including the United States – which currently have a visa ‘waiver’ system of fast track permission to enter the UK. Labour now plan to charge those visitors an additional £10 per visit, initially. UK Border controls have been hit by years of Westminster’s austerity agenda and budget cuts. These new Labour charges would come on top of Air Passenger Duty – already hitting Scottish airports and Scotland’s lucrative tourism industry. The new Labour levy would be another tax on people wanting to visit Scotland or do business.

MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar and SNP Westminster Transport spokesperson, Angus MacNeil commented:

“The idea that our borders would be better controlled by adding a new charge on people who want to come here on business or holiday – on top of the already punitive Air Passenger Duty (APD ) – is just going to create a double travel tax whammy for Scotland. Securing our borders should be funded properly and effectively by Government, and asking tourists from places like the United States and Canada for a further fee on top of the already punitive APD – which airlines, airports and business and tourist organisations are crying out to be axed – would make things even worse.

“Scotland depends on a growing and successful tourist economy – as well as direct air links. Labour’s proposals would just add a further surcharge on people who want to visit, as well as be an additional cost on business travellers. We need to do everything we can to encourage new direct air routes – and more people coming to Scotland.

“Our border controls are chaotic because of years of Westminster governments cutting budgets and staff, but this is not the solution. Again this is a clumsy attempt by Labour to dance to the UKIP agenda at Westminster, and this may be one of the reasons why polls show so many Scots turning away from Labour. They are completely out of touch with what Scotland needs to grow our economy.’’