UK Government ‘stands ready’ to restart talks on NI corporation tax reductions

Northern Ireland should be given greater powers to reduce taxes to boost businesses, Tory MPs have said.

Former Northern Ireland secretary Owen Patterson urged the Government to restart talks with the reinstated Northern Ireland Executive over introducing a differentiated level of corporation tax to compete with the Republic of Ireland.

Responding during Northern Ireland questions in the Commons, Northern Ireland minister Robin Walker said the UK Government “stand ready” to restart talks on corporation tax reductions.

Northern Ireland minister Robin Walker
Northern Ireland minister Robin Walker (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

Tory backbencher Laurence Robertson added: “As well as discussing corporation tax, which he should, will he also consider the levels of VAT on tourism and air passenger duty (APD) with the Executive because I understand both have been reduced in the Republic of Ireland?”

Mr Walker added: “The tourism potential of Northern Ireland is enormous and I can confirm to him as previously committed, this Government is reviewing the devolution of APD and that review is ongoing.”

Despite the UK Parliament passing the Corporation Tax (Northern Ireland) Act in 2015, powers to devolve corporation tax rate-setting powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly have yet to be used.

The level of corporation tax in the Republic of Ireland is 12.5% compared to 19% in the UK.

Earlier, shadow Northern Ireland secretary Tony Lloyd asked whether Boris Johnson was right to say that there would be no checks between goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Mr Lloyd said: “The First Minister is clear that there will be, the EU negotiator Michel Barnier is clear that there will be, many people in industry and commerce in Northern Ireland believe that there will be.

“Does the minister agree that there will be checks or does he say that there will not be checks between the goods going from GB to Northern Ireland?”

Northern Ireland minister Robin Walker responded: “The Prime Minister has been clear, beyond our obligations under international law there will be no changes for movements of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and when discussing the protocol with the EU, the UK will be ambitious on how flexible we can make this system.”

Mr Lloyd replied: “The minister of course is right that the Prime Minister has been crystal clear. A very simple question for the minister – is the Prime Minister right or wrong?”

Mr Walker responded: “I say to Mr Walker that the Prime Minister is always right.”

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