Early publication of the White Paper is clearly required if the damaging air of uncertainty in political circles in Northern Ireland is to be removed, but will my right hon. Friend take cognisance of the wide body of opinion in Northern Ireland—an opinion which I certainly share—that the border poll must precede publication of the White Paper? Otherwise, there is danger of the two issues intruding one upon the the other.
I take note of all these points. The White Paper, whenever it comes, will be of considerable importance to the future of Northern Ireland. It would be a great mistake to try to rush things, thereby possibly making some wrong decisions, merely for the sake of speed. I am anxious not to make any commitment about dates at this stage because I should not wish to make a commitment which in the event was not fulfilled.
I take note of the hon. Gentleman's view. I realise the importance of not having a long period of tension and uncertainty. Equally, I must reserve the Government's position, because very big issues are involved.