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Business Costs

Volume 532: debated on Tuesday 6 September 2011

In addition to taking action to reduce the fiscal deficit, the Government are putting in place a number of measures to create the right conditions for businesses to grow. This includes reducing corporate taxes to encourage businesses to invest, establishing enterprise zones, and increasing the support that research and development tax credits provide to small and medium-sized companies.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the new enterprise zones will transform the fiscal situation for local businesses? As there is a new enterprise zone in Harlow, will he set out the tax advantages that we will gain and when they will start?

I am delighted that one of the two enterprise zones in the south-east local enterprise partnership will be in my hon. Friend’s constituency of Harlow; 100% of business rates collected on the Harlow site will be retained for 25 years and are to be spent on local economic priorities. This will be possible from April 2013, once the necessary legislation is passed. Businesses will also benefit from simplified planning and Government support to ensure that superfast broadband is rolled out throughout the zone.

One proposal subject to consultation, which has now finished, for reducing costs in Northern Ireland is the devolution of corporation tax so that the rate can be reduced for that part of the United Kingdom. Will the Minister assure us that the devolution of corporation tax will not be set at a price that makes it impossible for the impact on the economy to be positive?

As the hon. Gentleman said, the consultation process is now completed. I know we will be in contact with the Northern Ireland Executive to discuss the results. No decisions have been taken, but we have clearly made progress in this area. I look forward to having future conversations with the hon. Gentleman, including about the particular issue of cost that he mentions, but it is right for the cost as well as the powers to be properly devolved.