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Enterprise Zone

Volume 525: debated on Wednesday 23 March 2011

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will unveil the Government’s plans for enterprise zones later today in the Budget. Separately, tomorrow we will publish a consultation paper on rebalancing the Northern Ireland economy and making Northern Ireland an even more attractive place to do business.

I thank the Secretary of State for that reply. A recent report by the Work Foundation found that 80% of the jobs created by enterprise zones are a result of relocation, and therefore are not new jobs. How will he ensure that the enterprise zones in Northern Ireland will be different?

The hon. Lady probably does not know that I have been using the phrase “enterprise zone” as a cover-all term for a whole range of measures that would revive the private sector in Northern Ireland. I am sure she agrees that it is unsustainable for—according to one report—77.6% of the gross domestic product of the Northern Ireland economy to come from public spending. Tomorrow, we will publish a paper blending our ideas with those of the Executive on how we will rebalance the Northern Ireland economy.

Does the Secretary of State agree that an enterprise zone across the whole of Northern Ireland is one thing, but if it is interpreted as it was in the 1980s, that will cause major displacements throughout the Province?

I repeat again what I just said: I have used the phrase “enterprise zone” over the past three and a half years as a cover-all term for referring to investing in a whole range of measures that will help revive the private sector. I have visited the hon. Gentleman’s constituency, and he agrees with me that we must rebalance the economy. The Chancellor will announce the detail of specific measures on enterprise zones in a few minutes, and I hope they will be taken up by the Executive, who will have responsibility in Northern Ireland.