HC Deb 28 May 1847 vol 92 cc1277-80

On the question that a sum of 295,513l. be granted for the expenses of the Stationery, Printing, and Binding in the various departments,


complained that this vote, as compared with that of 1845, showed an increase of no less than 68,000l.


said, there was included an item of 11,000l. or 12,000l., for compensation to the Queen's printer in Ireland. The only other explanation that could be given was, that there wore so many inquiries and commissions, that great expense was incurred in the printing of blue books, returns, &c.


should like to know how much had been expended in printing preliminary inquiries of various kinds, probably caused by parties who would object to this vote?


was anxious to know the expense of printing each separate report. When the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) was one of the Secretaries to the Treasury, he wished to know the expense of printing any paper, but could not get it; this showed that the hon. Gentleman really knew very little about the details of his office. He should like to know what trouble the hon. Gentleman ever took to furnish the House with these separate accounts.


was understood to say, that to furnish the House with the cost of each paper would be as expensive as the original printing of the paper itself.


said, the hon. Member would admit that when in office it was his duty to act with regard to the public expenditure as strictly as if he were transacting his own private business. If an account of 295,000l. was laid before the hon. Gentleman for printing connected with his own business, would he not think it necessary to ascertain the various items of which that large amount was composed? Yet this was not done here, and it was just the way with all the secretaries together.


thought the observations of the hon. Gentleman were altogether unfounded and uncalled for. If the Stationery Office were called upon to state the expense of each particular paper, it would cause a very considerable addition of expenditure, instead of being attended with the slightest economy. The proper way to keep down expense was for hon. Gentlemen not to call for unnecessary papers and reports.


would convict the hon. Gentleman on his own words, and show that he knew nothing of his own business. It was n t the clerks of the Stationery Office, but the printer, who entered the amount of the expense of papers printed. It was clear to him (Mr. Hume) that when the hon. Gentleman was in office he failed to do his duty.


should like to have a return of the expense of all the papers moved for and printed at the desire of the two hon. Gentlemen seated beside each other (Mr. Hume and Dr. Bowring).


had never asked for papers, but with a view to their being used for the public benefit; and he challenged any man to prove that he ever had. There was not a paper he had obtained that he had not made use of. He challenged the noble Lord to show that he had ever moved for a paper needlessly. On Monday he would move, that an account be laid on the Table showing what the amount of each item in this vote was; and he should also move for a return of what the expense of that analysis would be.


considered that more valuable information had been moved for by the hon. Member for Montrose than by any other Member of that House.


thought it was very desirable that before an order was agreed to by the House for the printing of any documents, proper inquiry should be made as to whether the papers asked for had not been already on the Table of the House. With regard to the insinuations of the noble Lord opposite, he must say that he (Dr. Bowring) had never moved for a document simply because he had been requested to do so. It was only when he thought that the production of a document would be of public service that he moved for it. The documents which he had moved for had always reference to some Motion either already before or about to be brought before the House. And having said thus much regarding himself, he would venture to say, with regard to the papers which had been moved for from time to time by his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose, that they had been the means of saving not only thousands, but millions of pounds to the country.


did not think it would be well for the Government to attempt to put checks upon the Members of the House with respect to moving for the production of papers. It would be very invidious for the Government to say to a Member moving for a return, "Your Motion is a very foolish one, and ought not to be granted." It might appear, under such circumstances, that the Government wished to withhold information from the public. He admitted that it would be well if the expense of printing documents already on the Table of the House could be saved; but it would be almost an impossibility. He believed that the expenses in the printing department were as small as they possibly could be made. The work was executed by contract.


said, he found that in 1845 the total expense for printing was 226,000l., whilst in the last year it was 295,000l. Now, even adding the additional ll,000l., which had been incurred in extra stationery for Ireland, he could not see how the item had increased so considerably. He wished to know whether the Government had been the cause of this increase in the expenditure.


replied, that the increase during the past year in the expense for printing papers for the Government was only 15,000l.; the remaining portion of the increase arose from the increased number of Parliamentary Papers printed on the Motions of hon. Members.


inquired whether there was any control or audit in respect to the printing of papers in the Stationery Office? and whether such papers as were printed for the Poor Law Commissioners could be printed by other departments at the public expense?


said, the Poor Law Commissioners were in the habit, under the verbal authority of the Government, of sending their annual reports to the Stationery Office to be printed. Other departments were responsible for their own printing.


said, the question of the hon. Member had not been answered. His object was to know whether publications similar to those which had been complained of from the Poor Law Commissioners might be published by other de- partments of the Government without any check.


was understood to say, that each department was responsible f6r its own printing, under the authority of the Treasury.

Vote agreed to.