My right hon. Friend the Minister of State and I meet regularly with Northern Ireland Ministers in support of their efforts to promote economic development and to help rebuild and rebalance the economy.
I have regular discussions with the First Minister, Deputy First Minister and Minister of Finance. Last year’s Budget, which became the Finance Act 2011, made that facility available. There are 24 enterprise zones in England, four in Scotland and seven in Wales. They have the capacity also to have enhanced capital allowances. I am in favour of them as a benefit for Northern Ireland, but this is a devolved issue and a devolved decision.
Does the Secretary of State accept that economic development is being hampered in Northern Ireland by the lack of willingness among the banks to assist businesses through these difficult economic times? Surely the Government can do more to force the banks to assist our economy, bearing in mind that taxpayers are the ones who helped them in their hour of crisis.
The hon. Gentleman makes a very good point. No one could have worked harder than my right hon. Friend the Chancellor and the First Secretary, who have been working with the banks ensuring that credit is freed up. Above all, let us not forget the complete mess that we inherited—the biggest deficit in western Europe. Through the robust measures that we have taken, we have kept the confidence of the international markets and have the lowest interest rates since the middle ages.