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Volume 608: debated on Wednesday 20 April 2016

5. What discussions she has had with the Northern Ireland Executive on increasing the level of exports from Northern Ireland. (904516)

Fixing the public finances to keep interest rates low and deliver economic stability is a crucial part of the Government’s efforts to promote exports. We are also using our diplomatic network around the world to promote exports from Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that UK Trade & Investment and Economist Intelligence Unit information shows that the career aspiration young people want to fulfil most by 2020 is to run their own business? What steps are being taken to help them achieve their aspirations and to become first-time exporters in the UK and Northern Ireland?

To do that, we are delivering economic stability, and we are cutting national insurance contributions for 3.4 million self-employed people. We are also working with the Northern Ireland Executive through the economic pact to deliver things such as our start-up loans programme for young entrepreneurs and through the taskforce on access to banking, which has delivered £60 million in business finance.

At a meeting yesterday involving the oil and gas group, Harland and Wolff from my constituency railed against the religious observance of EU regulations that is required of it, unlike its competitors across the European Union. How can we redress the balance so that it can compete equally with its competitors across the European Union?

The Government are certainly doing all they can to ensure that the UK, including Northern Ireland, is one of the most competitive places in the world to do business, which is one reason why we have reduced corporation tax. We are bearing down on unnecessary regulation. I will certainly look into the matters the hon. Gentleman raises in relation to the industry.