HC Deb 04 May 1972 vol 836 cc564-5
2. Mr. J. Selwyn Gurnmer

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will provide special aid for community development in Belfast and Londonderry so that those who wish to substitute self-help for non-co-operation may be encouraged.

The Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. David Howell)

Yes, Sir. Funds are available to the Ministry of Community Relations for this purpose under the Social Need (Grants) Act (Northern Ireland), 1970, and my right hon. Friend intends to promote further schemes and give further encouragement to existing programmes as soon as practicable.

Mr. Gummer

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that one of the most hopeful ways of giving people a feeling of community with fellow citizens living in Northern Ireland will be to encourage them to do things for their own society amongst themselves unconnected with the IRA and other extremist bodies? Will he therefore try to do as much as possible in the direction of community development?

Mr. Howell

I agree strongly with what my hon. Friend has said. My right hon. Friend intends to press ahead with as many programmes as possible in this area.

Mr. Nigel Fisher

Will my hon. Friend give consideration to the possibility of providing adventure playgrounds, particularly in Belfast, for Protestant and Catholic children—[Interruption.]—this is a constructive proposal—to enable Protestant and Catholic children to play together and to try to break down the hatred which is being instilled into the next generation, which is one of the worst features of the present situation?

Mr. Howell

I fully recognise that my hon. Friend is making a constructive and sensible suggestion. The types of facilities which have been considered under the Act include community centres preschool playgroups, adventure playgrounds, as my hon. Friend suggests, and old people's clubs.