The Minister has been scrupulous in her dealings with the Committee, but she is now being somewhat complacent. I will put to her the point that I made earlier, regarding the severe difficulties and under-manning of the PSNI.
Last autumn, the Chief Constable sought to undertake civilian recruitment to free up officers and put them on the beat. According to the Chief Constable, 250 applicants were Protestant, and only 26 were Roman Catholic. As a result of the 50:50 rule, he was able to make only 52 appointments. The arithmetic is straightforward: 26 from one group and 26 from the other, which meant that approximately 224 Protestants who were willing to be recruited were not recruited. These are serious numbers. Will the Minister stay with the 50:50 rule even in the face of the fact that it is leading to severe under-establishment in the PSNI?