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MPs debate costs of travelling abroad during school holidays

24/02/2014 Joanna
Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming has begun pressuring ministers to cut taxes for families travelling abroad during the school holidays.

The minister is lobbying to reduce or suspend airport passenger duty at peak travel times in order to make it easier for families to go on holiday together, the BBC reports. An e-petition on the issue received 166,229 signatures and a parliamentary debate on the topic is now taking place.

Recently, the Department for Education introduced stricter rules stipulating when head teachers are allowed to grant family holidays. Last September, it was decided such holidays would only be permitted under exceptional circumstances.

However, the cost of taking a holiday during the peak season is prohibitive to many. The petition was drawn up by mother-of-two Donna Thresher from Essex after she noted a £600 difference in the cost of taking her family away for the weekend during the holidays.

Travel firm Travelzoo is backing the campaign - it claims taxes on outbound flights can add up to as much as £376 and, combined with legislation and tour operator price rises, constitute a "parent trap".

In a response to the petition, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: "The UK holiday industry is an extremely competitive market and as a result the sector relies on the profits from peak periods to make sure it can trade throughout the year.

"On top of this, the industry competes internationally against companies from other countries and as a result may need to increase prices during these periods."

The department said any evidence of anti-competitive pricing should be presented to the Civil Aviation Authority in respect of airline prices or the Office of Fair Trading, which have the power to launch an investigation.

Mr Hemming is also calling for a review of the current rules on granting holidays during term time, claiming the stricter guidelines were not the subject of proper debate before they were introduced. He believes the rules are "too restrictive".

Posted by Alan DouglasADNFCR-2164-ID-801696688-ADNFCR
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