Belfast Telegraph

Devolving NI tax 'could help union'

Devolving corporation tax to Northern Ireland could undermine the case for Scottish independence, according to Stormont's Finance Minister.

Westminster is examining the case for devolving corporation tax to Northern Ireland but has ruled out devolving it to Scotland for the time being.

Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to look at devolving more powers to Scotland if it votes 'no' to independence but said he will only discuss further powers after the referendum. He is also expected to veto a second question in the referendum on further devolution of fiscal powers, so-called devo max.

Stormont is pressing Westminster for a quick decision on its corporation tax proposals.

Speaking to Northern Irish broadcaster UTV, Sammy Wilson acknowledged that Mr Cameron could have a political problem over devolving corporation tax to Northern Ireland because it could then be argued that he would have to do the same with Scotland.

But Mr Cameron could turn the argument round and use it to demonstrate that Westminster is willing to give more powers to the devolved regions if the economic case can be made, he suggested.

"I would actually say to the Prime Minister, 'you can turn it around'," said Mr Wilson. "One of the reasons why Alex Salmond says he wants independence is because 'Westminster will hold on to everything'.

"Well, I think the Prime Minister can say, 'That's not the case. Where a devolved authority makes a good argument to have something devolved, we will give it. Northern Ireland came and made a good argument to rebalance their economy and needed the devolution of corporation tax.

"They came, they gave solid arguments and we released corporation tax to the devolved assembly in Northern Ireland. If Scotland makes a good argument they can get things devolved'."

A spokesman for First Minister Alex Salmond said he does not think the devolution of corporation tax to Northern Ireland would undermine the case for Scottish independence. He added: "If we were to get responsibility for corporation tax as part of independence, then that debate will become redundant anyway."


From Belfast Telegraph