PM to 'look carefully' at tax report

Corporation tax was on the agenda as the PM met Stormont leaders.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he will look carefully at a report on corporation tax - but made no definitive commitment.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012
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First and deputy First Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness handed the document to Mr Cameron during his visit to Northern Ireland on Tuesday, when the trio took part in an hour-long meeting at Stormont Castle.

Mr Cameron said he will study the report in detail - however he insisted that giving the region power over its tax rate is not the only solution to its economic difficulties.

Speaking after the talks, he said: "I have just received today a report by the Executive about the issue of corporation tax. We will study that carefully.

There are a lot of complicated issues to be hammered out. It isn't straightforward. It is not a single answer to the problems of Northern Ireland's economy.

David Cameron

"I have always seen some major reasons and advantages for moving ahead on this not least because of the border you have with the Republic.

"We clearly need a bigger private sector here in Northern Ireland so there is no one single solution. It is also other issues we need to address as well.

"But I think we are making some progress."

Advocates of the tax plan to reduce the local tax rate to 12.5% believe it will improve the region's ability to attract investment and allow NI to compete on a level playing field with the Republic.

However the cost would be a loss of Assembly finding from Westminster.

First Minister Peter Robinson said: "We have talked about the economy in Northern Ireland, the difficulties we are facing possible ways of moving forward including the devolution of corporation tax.

"And we have talked about matters relating to our shared future in Northern Ireland. It has been a very useful meeting. We have already arranged with the Prime Minister that we will have further contact particularly over the corporation tax issue."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: "Clearly during the course of the meeting we had an opportunity to go into detail about what we could do to tackle the economic situation much more effectively."

It is understood the three leaders will meet again in London to discuss the issue.