Page last updated at 08:52 GMT, Thursday, 20 October 2011 09:52 UK

Private sector growth in NI debate

On 19 October 2011 peers took part in a debate called by Conservative peer Lord Lexden on private sector growth in Northern Ireland.

Lord Lexden, who used to teach history at Queen's University Belfast, spoke of Northern Ireland's overreliance on the public sector. He called for a cut in the corporation tax there to 12.5% in order to stimulate the private sector and allow firms to create jobs.

"Without new and fulfilling jobs for young people in particular, much of the province's great talent will leave and find employment elsewhere," Lord Lexden predicted.

Opposition spokeswoman Baroness Smith of Basildon said Labour had "reservations" about such a measure, but said it was important above all to "listen to local decision-makers and take on board their opinions".

Closing for the government, Northern Ireland spokesman Lord Shutt of Greetland said "we need to be cautious" because "low corporation tax is not a silver bullet".

During the 2008-2011 programme for government, Invest Northern Ireland was largely charged with creating jobs with salaries above the private sector average of about £18,000.

Invest Northern Ireland is a development agency which helps new and existing businesses to compete internationally, and tried to attract new investment to Northern Ireland.

Invest NI is part of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

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