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Volume 530: debated on Wednesday 6 July 2011

Northern Ireland is an excellent place to do business and enjoys world-class aerospace, engineering and health technology companies, but the Northern Ireland economy is still too over-reliant on the public sector, so we are working together with the Northern Ireland Executive to help rebalance it and to boost private sector growth.

Will my right hon. Friend ensure that internal squabbles in the Assembly do not undermine the consultation?

I am delighted to report that the consultation, which ends on Friday, has received the overwhelming endorsement of all five political parties. The leaders in the Executive came to Kelvatek for the launch of that very successful consultation. My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have been to Northern Ireland to see what is happening for themselves—as has my hon. Friend the Exchequer Secretary, who is going again tomorrow—and we will respond in the autumn.

Does the Secretary of State agree that if the Northern Ireland economy is to be helped through the devolution of corporation tax, that must come at a fair, reasonable and acceptable price rather than a price that is detrimental to economic growth?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Treasury document makes it clear that every 2.5% reduction in corporation tax requires a £60 million to £90 million reduction in the block grant. That constitutes 0.5% of the block grant, which many economists and businesses consider to be a very modest investment.