Belfast Telegraph

Treasury accused of 'goalpost move'

The Treasury has been accused of failing to adequately consult the Northern Ireland Executive as it considers measures to rebalance the local economy.

The Chancellor wants to encourage private enterprise and is considering whether corporation tax can be varied to make Northern Ireland more competitive in attracting foreign businesses. George Osborne's department is due to contact the Executive soon about his plans before publishing proposals.

Stormont Finance Minister and MP Sammy Wilson told other MPs the Treasury had changed the rules.

"It seems again the goalposts have been changed, we will be presented with a Treasury paper," he said.

Mr Wilson exchanged words with Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson at the Northern Ireland Grand Committee on the Comprehensive Spending Review at Westminster.

The Democratic Unionist said the terms of reference envisaged a greater role for the devolved administration.

"I can remember the terms of reference were certainly different from what he has now described today," he added.

Mr Wilson has warned the cuts would take £4 billion from the Northern Ireland budget over the next four years.

Mr Paterson said it would ultimately be up to the Assembly whether it wanted to introduce corporation tax changes.

"This will not play unless it has the support of Westminster and Stormont. It is very much a team game," he said.

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