Belfast Telegraph

Cameron to give NI Assembly address

The Prime Minister is expected to address the Northern Ireland Assembly on Thursday.

David Cameron is also scheduled to meet First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont Castle.

There are plans for him to hold talks with other members of the Northern Ireland ministerial Executive.

The Conservative leader caused controversy during last year's election campaign when he mentioned Northern Ireland as a region in which the public sector is too big.

Public funding is expected to be high on the agenda following the coalition's decision last autumn to reduce the amount paid by 6.9% over four years. Mr Robinson and other members of the Executive have argued that the cuts were worse than expected.

The Treasury is consulting on giving the Executive the power to reduce corporation tax charged on businesses in an effort to revitalise private enterprise in Northern Ireland. That could be accompanied by significant cuts in the block grant provided by Westminster to run Northern Ireland public services.

Northern Ireland faces competition from the Republic of Ireland, with its 12.5% rate of corporation tax, as it seeks to attract inward investment by private firms. The current rate in Northern Ireland is 26%.

Last week, the leaders of the three devolved regions, including Scotland and Wales, met in Edinburgh and discussed corporation tax.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has also demanded that his administration be given the powers to cut the business tax.

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