Corporation tax: Leaders must grasp opportunity says Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron. : Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Prime Minister David Cameron. : Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Prime Minister David Cameron has said the publication of the corporation tax bill was a “great opportunity” for the Province – and one which our political leaders need to grasp “with both hands”.

The move has also been welcomed by Stormont Finance Minister Simon Hamilton, who said the power to set the corporation tax rate “will provide the Executive with a powerful lever to transform the Northern Ireland economy and place it on a significantly higher growth path”.

His DUP colleague, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, said: “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that can act as a stimulus to rebalance our economy and grow the private sector.”

In a statement, Tory leader Mr Cameron said: “This is a great opportunity for Northern Ireland – one that I hope its leaders will grasp with both hands. With these powers Northern Ireland itself will be able to set the corporation tax rates that best support our shared ambition to rebalance the economy.

“Last month’s historic agreement on finance, welfare and the past – backed by a significant financial package from the UK Government – opens the way for more prosperity and more economic security for Northern Ireland.”

SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell welcomed plans – but urged caution.

He said: “The cost to our block grant associated with a reduction in Corporation Tax would mean further and deeper cuts to public spending which would pose serious issues for the effective delivery of necessary services. We now need the detail of that cost from the treasury ... The acid test for this power will be whether or not the benefits out-weigh the costs and at the minute that is a very tightly balanced argument.”

Ivan Lewis MP, Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, said it was important to consider the long-term and short-term implications of the move for Northern Ireland and the wider UK.

However, he added that Labour “will not oppose the legislation and will co-operate with the Government to ensure the bill can be scrutinised appropriately and dealt with speedily in this Parliament”.