I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. We were grateful, because the Government's record on consultation leaves much to be desired. But in fairness I must accept that if an open mind is a virtue in the Government, it is no less a virtue in the rest of us. So I urge right hon. and hon. Members on other Benches to reflect on a truth of which I must constantly remind myself—that it is not a sign of weakness for any of us to consider it possible that we may be wrong.
I do not propose to expound the Opposition's views on the ultimate solution to the problems of Northern Ireland. I shall even abstain from enlarging on our interim solutions. I have spoken of them in detail on other occasions, and no doubt some of my hon. Friends will wish to speak about them tonight. I simply want to appeal to all those who for various reasons are tempted to practise the politics of abstention to recognise that, if there is to be a stable settelement, they should be part of it, and that one does not achieve a settlement by refusing to talk and listen.
We shall not seek to deny the Government their order tonight. For the moment there is no alternative to direct rule, but that is something we should all be seeking to change. I have avoided saying anything which should divide us substantially or dramatically from the Government, because to do so would not be helpful at this stage, but the Government cannot simply wait on events. It is their responsibility to take the lead in seeking a better way of administering the affairs of Northern Ireland.