Speaking as Conservatives gathered for their Annual Conference in Manchester, Owen Paterson MP, said HM Treasury will now engage the NI Executive in detailed discussions ahead of legislation. The Strangford MLA welcomed this development:
“This was a joint Manifesto pledge by the Conservatives and the Ulster Unionist Party last year, and following the close of the Treasury’s Consultation process the time is right to press on. We believe the power to set our own rate of Corporation Tax is the single most important initiative we can take to boost our private sector, and while it will come at a price, in terms of an adjustment to the Block Grant, we need to create a business-friendly environment where entrepreneurs can create jobs, generating the wealth that yields the taxes that fund our public services.
“This is about making everyone wealthier, not just the so-called ‘fat cats’ of big business. All assessments point to more jobs, greater productivity, more wealth and wellbeing. The only issue is how to mitigate the cut in the Block Grant, and we favour a pre-announcement which will give Invest NI the 18 to 24 months they need to get businesses established on the ground, and then a series of cuts over the following three to four years, which will allow us scope to react to global trends.
“We are very pleased to hear the Secretary of State remains commitment to this project, pledge our support to make it happen, and call for the debate to be widened to discuss what else we need to make Northern Ireland a preferred place to do business.”