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Like many in Northern Ireland, I believe that we need to rebalance the Northern Ireland economy and boost private sector growth and investment. The Government will work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive to help make Northern Ireland a beacon for foreign investment and growth.
Enterprise zones in England are an exciting opportunity to grow the private sector, and I hope they will be delivered in my constituency by the Welsh Assembly Government. Will the Secretary of State update the House on what progress is being made in Northern Ireland to deliver such an innovative opportunity?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the question. I have been travelling to Northern Ireland for nearly four years and wanting to turn the whole of Northern Ireland into an enterprise zone, making it an attractive place for investment and building on all the advantages that it now has. On my hon. Friend’s specific question, enterprise zones as described in the Budget are now in devolved hands and I hope the devolved Ministers grasp the opportunity with both hands. [Interruption.]
Order. There are far too many noisy private conversations taking place in the Chamber. The House must hear Mr Sammy Wilson.
Recently the Irish Republic abolished air passenger duty, which has put at risk cross-Atlantic flights from Northern Ireland and had an impact on the tourist and investment strategy of the Executive. Ironically, that was done as a result of loans facilitated by the UK Government. Will the Secretary of State ensure that in the renegotiation of those loans or any further loans, conditions are attached that stop the Irish Republic gaining such competitive advantage?
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his re-election, and re-election to his Ministry. He is right that maintaining good, cheap and quick transport links between Northern Ireland and the rest of the world is vital. I have discussed APD with Treasury colleagues. A consultation is going on and I would like to meet the hon. Gentleman to discuss how we work together on the matter. In meetings with the Government in Dublin, I will also raise the issue.