8. Mr. J. Enoch Powell
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will allocate specific duties to district councils in respect of gritting and clearing footpaths.
§ Mr. Chris Patten
Agency arrangements already exist which permit district councils at their discretion to grit footpaths in specified urban areas throughout Northern Ireland.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the intense public preoccupation with measures to cope with frost and snow in the Province? Will he, pending the restoration of genuine local government to look after these matters in a commonsense way, bring local authorities as far as possible into co-operation with his Department in these measures?
§ Mr. Patten
As the right hon. Gentleman may know, last winter we produced a model agreement for agency arrangements in consultation with local government. I am bound to say that this has received a mixed reaction, partly, I suspect, because many district councils think that praise and popularity are not always heaped on the shoulders of those who undertake this important function.