HC Deb 05 December 1983 vol 50 cc76-7W
Mr. Peter Robinson

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) if he will list the recommendations made by the Economic Development Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly which have been accepted by the Government;

(2) how many reports have been issued by the Economic Development Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly; and on what subjects.

Mr. Butler

At 31 October 1983, the Committee had issued one report, on industrial development incentives in Northern Ireland, which contained 27 recommendations of which 23 have been accepted by the Government, in part or in full:

  1. 1. that the Government, as a matter of priority, should make provision for a tax incentive to all industry, comparable in effect to the 10 per cent. rate of tax applying in the Republic of Ireland, and capable of presentation and administration in a simple striking form;
  2. 2. that the Government introduce derating on industrial premises as a means of offsetting to some extent the additional on-going costs in respect of energy, security, insurance and transport incurred by industry in Northern Ireland;
  3. 3. that the Government investigate and produce recommendations for alleviating the high cost of motor vehicle and employers' liability insurance in the province;
  4. 4. that provision be made to enable the Industrial Development Board and the Local Enterprise Development Unit to provide short-term capital swiftly to companies experiencing temporary difficulties;
  5. 5. that where companies so request, employment grants be paid at three-monthly intervals;
  6. 6. that the IDB monitor closely potential development areas in the service sector and consider extending the schemes for selective financial assistance and standard capital grant to encompass various industries within this sector;
  7. 7. that close attention be paid to the special needs of the high technology industries and consideration given to the provision of special rates of Research and Development assistance up to 100 per cent. funding for industries in this sector;
  8. 8. that in assessing the attractiveness of investment projects, their eligibility for assistance and the amount of assistance to be offered, account should be taken of the likely duration of the jobs to be created;
  9. 9. that the IDB should publish annually its objectives and job targets for the coming year;
  10. 10. that every effort be made to develop and publicise advisory services for, in particular, small industry, to improve standards of marketing, management and product development;
  11. 11. that the Government monitor and promote vigorously through appropriate channels such as employers' organisations, opportunities for joint venture, import substitution and business marriages;
  12. 12. that Government proceed as a matter of urgency to reach conclusions on the effectiveness of present arrangements to encourage Research and Development in Northern Ireland and to produce proposals for improvement where appropriate;
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  14. 13. that the education and training programmes of the institutions of further and higher education should be examined by the IDB and LEDU in order to ensure that future planning meets the needs of industry;
  15. 14. that the Government considers what extra measures may be needed to ensure that key personnel are encouraged to work in Northern Irealand and, if necessary, provide special finance to achieve this objective;
  16. 15. that the IDB consider how the expertise and goodwill of local industrialists, trade unionists and the business community might be co-ordinated and used to best advantage to complement the Board's efforts to counteract Northern Ireland's image abroad;
  17. 16. that the effectiveness of Enterprise Zones in creating additional employment be carefully monitored and a report thereon produced by April 1984;
  18. 17. that Government consider Northern Ireland as a possible location for a Freeport and that the location of such a Freeport within Northern Ireland be decided after an urgent and professional review of how it might be used to maximise benefit in terms of employment creation, taking account of experience elsewhere and with a careful analysis of how its functions might relate to those of an Enterprise Zone. If a Freeport is developed it should not necessarily be tied to a small land area and the Dutch model should be considered as a basis for a more flexible application of the idea;
  19. 18. that greater pubicity be given to existing schemes in respect of customs warehousing and inward processing relief;
  20. 19. that a clear explanatory guide to all financial incentives available in Northern Ireland be produced and regularly updated by IDB, LEDU and DED;
  21. 20. that the Government take steps to encourage the establishment in Northern Ireland of venture capital organisations;
  22. 21. that the working relationships between the IDB and LEDU be further reviewed now that the IDB is firmly established, to ensure that their activities do not lead to overlap or uncertainty for industrialists and businessmen;
  23. 22. that LEDU be encouraged to devise, for very small startup projects, a scheme of assistance which, though fairly small, would be available almost automatically in qualifying sectors and would therefore reduce the degree of intitial scrutiny of such projects;

Eastern Western Northern Southern Northern Ireland
Centres 17 5 11 4 37
Places available 780 202 652 200 1,834
Centres 16 5 11 3 35
Places available 745 202 652 150 1,749
Centres 15 5 11 3 34
Places available 725 170 640 150 1,685
Centres 14 5 8 3 30
Places available 682 170 537 150 1,539
Centres 14 4 8 3 29
Places available 650 140 517 150 1,457
Centres 15 4 6 2 27
Places available 484 156 422 80 1,142