We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Northern Ireland Economy and Innovation: Government Support

Part of Endometriosis Workplace Support – in Westminster Hall at 5:05 pm on 29th October 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Steve Pound Steve Pound Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland) 5:05 pm, 29th October 2019

Let us agree on one thing: Northern Ireland is the home of innovation. There has been a long history of that, from the modern tractor through to the Sunderland flying boat, Wrightbus and Shorts Missile Systems. In fact, most of the ejector seats in modern fighter planes are made in Northern Ireland. There is no argument that we have that extraordinary history; that seedbed of innovation, which is flourishing.

When we go to places such as Lagan College and speak to young people who are working in completely new businesses and industries, we realise that the base material is there. So what can we do, as Government, to facilitate the flowering of that innovation and great skill? When, 20-odd years ago, we had a problem with the aggregates industry because of the fiscal harmonisation issue cross-border, the Government were able to work with the aggregates industry in Northern Ireland to equalise the rates of exchange on tariffs, in order to facilitate that local business. However, that is just a tiny bit of it.

We have a philosophical question here: how do we actually support industry and innovation? The days of DeLorean, of parachuting in large amounts of money and of top-down intervention are long gone. We have to work in an entirely different way. Look at companies such as Thales, based in my constituency.