HC Deb 23 February 1984 vol 54 cc962-3
6. Mr. J. Enoch Powell

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will accede to the request of the Newry and Mourne district council that district councils be given responsibility for gritting and salting of roads in conditions of frost and snow.

The Under-Secretary for Northern Ireland (Mr. Chris Patten)

No such request has been received.

Mr. Powell

Does the Under-Secretary of State agree that it would be entirely practical and efficient for such a service to be administered by those who live in the locality, who know where the needs most urgently arise and are in the best position to be aware of public anxiety and, if necessary, to allay it?

Mr. Patten

There are some practical difficulties in the right hon. Gentleman's proposal. I am not aware of any general desire among district councils to have that function transferred to them. If the organisation representative of district councils comes forward with that proposal, we shall give it the serious attention which it will doubtless deserve.

Rev. William McCrea

Will the Under-Secretary of State assure the House that if such powers were given to local district councils in Northern Ireland appropriate finance would be made available to them, so that there would not be another financial fiasco, such as we had with the dogs order, with the burden being put on district rates and the money coming from local people's pockets?

Mr. Patten

Any such change would, of course, have financial implications, as the hon. Gentleman has suggested.