§ Mr. Flannery
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what major steps have been taken to extend democracy in Northern Ireland since the present emergency began.
§ Mr. Flannery
I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer, and I hope that he can extend the list in the near future. Important as security is—it naturally tends to dominate Question Time—does not my right hon. Friend agree that the solution for Northern Ireland must be political? May we have a full-scale debate on Northern Ireland as soon as possible?
§ Mr. Powell
Is it not appropriate to welcome the support of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) for the principle of decision by majority in Northern Ireland? Is the Secretary of State aware that one of the most important advances still necessary for democracy in Northern Ireland is an extension of real local government as it is enjoyed in the rest of the United Kingdom?
§ Mr. Mason
I recognise that the right hon. Gentleman is really referring to the Macrory gap. There are 26 local councils in Northern Ireland, and there is a gap between that level and central Government. If the right hon. Gentleman can encourage members of the old Convention and other politicians in Northern Ireland to get together to try to bridge the gulf so that all parties concerned can acquiesce in a form of partnership in government, I shall be prepared to consider their solutions.