I have no current plans for changes to the existing structure of local government in Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. Tom King
I should like to hear the attitude of those who might take part in such an activity. That is why I have asked my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State to work with me on establishing views on this and other approaches, to see which might attract the support of people in Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. McGrady
Does the Minister recall that of the nine causes of civil unrest that were found by the Scarman tribunal, seven were laid at the door of local government in Northern Ireland? Does the right hon. Gentleman agree with me that the history of local government in Northern Ireland since that time with regard to fair employment and participation of minority parties in local government shows that local government in Northern Ireland has a very long way to go before powers can be restored to it?
§ Mr Tom King
Of course I understand that. Some of the behaviour of some councils reinforces what the hon. Gentleman says. At the same time, we have sought to address those areas of grievance, whether in housing or electoral law arrangements. I am sure that my hon. Friend 1027 the Under-Secretary would not envisage changes unless they were accompanied by adequate safeguards to ensure that there could not be malpractices.