1. Mr. J. Enoch Powell
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will re-allocate the portfolios among the junior Ministers of the Northern Ireland Office so as to avoid the same Minister being responsible for both environment and health and social services.
§ The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Douglas Hurd)
The two portfolios have been carried with distinction by my hon. Friend since June 1983. I have no plans to re-allocate them.
Is the Secretary of State aware that this question carries no sort of imputation or criticism of the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Patten), but does not the Secretary of State recognise that the detailed part of these duties could be much more effectively carried out if it were administered by locally elected representatives?
§ Mr. Hurd
I accept what the right hon. Gentleman says in the first part of his supplementary questions. He is really criticising the system under which it is I who have too wide powers which in his view ought to be in the hands of an elected authority. I have a great deal of sympathy for that point of view. If it were possible to reach agreement in the Province on arrangements that would pass some of those powers out of my hands into the hands of an elected authority or authorities, and if they gained widespread acceptance in so doing, both I and the House would wish to look at them very carefully.