I'd like to congratulate the Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, who won the Business Personality of the Year award at the UTV Business Eye Awards 2011 at the Culloden last week.
This honour emphasises that the business community is increasingly looking to the Conservative Party to champion its interests. In Owen Paterson, companies and the public have an advocate in the Cabinet.
Owen devotes a huge amount of time and energy, listening to the needs of people in Northern Ireland and all his hard work is delivering tangible benefits.
With Cabinet colleagues, he delivered a cut in Air Passenger Duty for long-haul flights to and from Northern Ireland, saving our vital direct link to the United States.
The government has delivered on saving Bangor's Coastguard centre, a solution to the PMS crisis, a deal on the block grant and funding for the security forces.
Owen and other Conservatives are also driving forward the argument for devolving corporation tax powers, which could be a key component for future growth.
Owen's efforts haven't gone unnoticed by the business community here. They clearly recognise an ally in creating jobs and prosperity and this award is a well-deserved vote of confidence in a Secretary of State who is doing a great job on the economy.
North Down Conservatives