Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:43 pm on 23rd March 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sammy Wilson Sammy Wilson Shadow Spokesperson (Education), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Treasury) 2:43 pm, 23rd March 2011

Of course, the earlier growth figures were also OBR-ified, if one wants to use that term, yet they did not prove to be realisable over a six-month period. We cannot simply rely on the assurances that the OBR has looked at the figures and thinks they are okay, as there could well be a revision. I am merely pointing to some aspects within the Budget document that give me cause for concern as to whether these growth figures can be achieved. If they cannot, there are implications for the deficit, for employment, for living standards, and for the ability to provide public services in future.

Let me turn to some of the measures that apply to Northern Ireland. As we heard in an earlier intervention, tomorrow morning an announcement will be made about the corporation tax proposals for Northern Ireland. I am waiting to see that. I have no doubt that the ability of the Northern Ireland Administration to reduce corporation tax could be a useful lever. As a Unionist—I know that Stewart Hosie will probably be totally appalled that anyone from a devolved Administration should say this—I do not want to see huge fiscal powers devolved to Northern Ireland. I am part of the United Kingdom, I want to remain part of the United Kingdom, and I wish fiscal powers to stay part of the United Kingdom.

There has been a groundswell of opinion for some variation in corporation tax; indeed, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has been very enthusiastic about it. However, there is no point in devolving corporation tax if the price tag attached is such that it savages public expenditure, which has already suffered a huge cut as a result of the Budget decisions made last October. There would be a gestation period between a reduction in corporation tax and the impact on jobs on the ground, whereas any cut in public spending or in the block grant would take immediate effect. There would be no increase in private sector employment, together with an immediate decrease in public sector employment, and that cannot be good for economic recovery.

I fear that the figures in the document that we have tomorrow will be neither a fair reflection of the cost of devolving corporation tax to Northern Ireland nor the kind of opportunity and offer that would be attractive to the Northern Ireland Administration. We will want to see that the Treasury and the Government have not made a savage reduction in the block grant even though it bears no relation to what the real cost of devolving corporation tax might be.