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Lord Kilclooney urges caution on company tax

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is visiting local chambers of commerce to ask them if they would welcome a reduction of corporation tax from 28% to 12.5%. Surprise, surprise, the answer is 'Yes'.

Such a policy would make Northern Ireland more competitive with the Republic of Ireland and would result in a reduction in the block grant from Whitehall to the Stormont Exchequer.

The Secretary of State would become very popular within the Treasury, but implications are more serious for electors - not just businesses in Northern Ireland.

Firstly, the competition advantage would soon disappear as Scotland and Wales very quickly would also demand 12.5% corporation tax.

Secondly, the resulting reduction in the transfer to the Stormont Exchequer from Whitehall would mean less funding for public services such as health, education and infrastructure.

While businessmen would benefit from a lower corporation tax, the result would be that most electors would suffer.

Politicians in Northern Ireland should be cautious of the proposal by the Secretary of State. I write not only as an employer of 300 people, but also as a politician.

LORD KILCLOONEY

House of Lords

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