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“Building a Prosperous and United Community”

Volume 564: debated on Monday 17 June 2013

On Friday, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I agreed a package of measures with the First and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland aimed at rebalancing the Northern Ireland economy and building a shared society. I have placed a copy of this agreement, “Building a Prosperous and United Community”, in the Library of the House.

The package is designed to help us move further towards the shared and prosperous Northern Ireland that we all want to see. We have agreed an investment plan that confirms we are on course to deliver the commitment to £18 billion of capital funding by 2017. A total of £300 million investment to support front-line projects will be made available through enhanced capital borrowing powers. Government top-ups to PEACE IV and EU structural funding.

We have prioritised a range of measures to help boost the private sector and rebalance the Northern Ireland economy.

Continuing Northern Ireland’s assisted areas status coverage will enable the Executive to continue with the targeted support for the private sector that has helped to promote over 3,000 new private sector jobs in Northern Ireland in the last three months alone. There will be a new way forward on planning reform and initiatives to drive investment in infrastructure, promote new businesses and boost tourism. Fresh work will take place on enterprise zones. We have agreed a potential mechanism for taking forward the devolution of corporation tax rates if the Government decide to devolve these powers.

The package includes a commitment to ensure that an annual update is provided to Parliament on progress on the economy and building a shared future for the people of Northern Ireland.

I believe that the package represents a real step forward for Northern Ireland. This agreement reflects the maturing relationship between the Government and Executive and is a symbol of our ambitious vision for Northern Ireland: a genuinely shared society that is fulfilling its economic potential and laying the foundations for peace, stability and prosperity for the future.