Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation — Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:06 pm on 25th March 2013.

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Photo of William McCrea William McCrea DUP, South Antrim 8:06 pm, 25th March 2013

I thank my hon. Friend for that suggestion. In fact, that suggestion would have been profitable for the economy, especially bearing in mind that we in Northern Ireland already pay higher fuel prices than any other region of the United Kingdom. We also welcome the low cost of borrowing from the banks over a sustained period, but I have to say that there is another side to that because we should have some sympathy for many pensioners and other savers who depend on savings to supplement their income. They are suffering greatly from the very low interest rates.

I acknowledge the reduction of corporation tax to 20%, ensuring a single rate for businesses in April 2015. In welcoming this step, however, I would ask the Chancellor when corporation tax is going to be devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly, particularly bearing in mind the fact that we compete with the Irish Republic, which has a 12.5% rate. We want to be able to compete on a level playing field, or better, to bring inward investment into our Province. Northern Ireland’s population has a strong work ethic, but we need policies that will build confidence, bring that inward investment and help industries in the local community to invest in the future.

Air passenger duty is another issue. I believe it is detrimental to our economy. I acknowledge that APD exists for transatlantic flights from Northern Ireland, but we need to challenge this, so I call on the Chancellor to reconsider his position. There is anger, too, over the millionaires’ tax cuts, while at the same time there is the hurt over the bedroom tax. Where will our constituents find the houses for the downsizing? It is easy to talk about these imaginary houses, but that offers no relief to families that face turmoil in getting a roof over their heads.