The economy in Northern Ireland continues to grow, with 42,000 more people in work now than in 2010, and with inward investment playing an important part in that success. As we develop our new trade relationships and expand our global trade networks, we will continue to promote Northern Ireland as a place to invest and do business.
I thank my hon. Friend for her reply. Will she confirm that the Government remain committed to devolving corporation tax powers to the Executive in order to help Northern Ireland to better compete with Ireland for investment and jobs, but if that is to happen, we need a fully functioning Executive with sustainable finances?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Our imperative is to see a restored and fully functioning Executive so that they can take such steps to support the economy, along with the many other important things on their to-do list.
Will my hon. Friend confirm that Northern Ireland remains one of the most attractive parts of the UK in which to invest, and that the key to that continuing will be working with a restored Executive to ensure that Northern Ireland benefits from our modern industrial strategy?
Again, this is precisely the point in front of us. Northern Ireland has already proved itself to be a top destination for inward investment. In the last year alone, it welcomed 22 new investors, who have brought in 34 new foreign direct investment projects and more than 1,600 new jobs, but to take that further, we need an Executive in place.
On devolution, the political parties collectively agreed in 2007 to throw their weight behind the important work of growing Northern Ireland’s economy, achieving particular success in foreign direct investment. In the absence of devolved Ministers due to Sinn Féin’s continued refusal to get back into government and deliver for the people of Northern Ireland, will the Minister outline how she will assist Invest NI?
The hon. Lady draws us into some of the themes that we went over at some length on Monday night. This Government are prepared to do everything necessary to support the good governance of Northern Ireland, but our first priority is to see the Executive restored, so that they can play their part in the economic development that we all want for her city, for the rest of Northern Ireland, and for the good of the entire United Kingdom as we face the large task of exiting the EU.
Will the Minister ensure that the Government’s efforts to bring about inward investment are focused on the whole of Northern Ireland, including great places such as Newry, Omagh and Derry/Londonderry?
Yes. I was in Newry last week, speaking to an audience of teenagers about the future that they want for Northern Ireland, which is extremely important. We need to look across the whole area and to be sure that we are working for all people of Northern Ireland, as we do for all people of the United Kingdom.