§ MR. POCHIN
said, he wished to ask the President of the Board of Trade, Whether it is not desirable that Annual Reports should be rendered by the Master of the Mint, and by the Marine, Commercial, Foreign, and Statistical Departments of the Board of Trade, the same in character as the present Annual Reports rendered by the Board of Customs and Board of Inland Revenue; and, if it would not be a measure of economy and convenience to discontinue the present separate publications of the Reports on Foreign Trade from Consuls Abroad and Secretaries of Legation, and issue quarterly, in a collected and. arranged form, all Reports received during the previous three months? He was aware that it was no part of the duty of the Board of Trade to issue these Reports.
Mr. Speaker, my hon. Friend in his Question has said what is very true—namely, that it is no portion of the duty of the Board of Trade to issue these Reports; but I am happy to be able to inform him that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given orders that a Report with respect to the Mint should be prepared, and therefore as far as that part of the Question is concerned it is answered. With regard to the Foreign Department, I have a note from the Foreign Office, which I will read for the benefit of the House— 576The Reports of Secretaries of Legation and of Consuls are now published monthly, as received at the Foreign Office, the object being to place the information therein contained at the disposal of the commercial classes, with as little delay as possible. Originally, these Reports were only published whilst Parliament was sitting, and they could be formally presented to the House; but it was found that much information was thus postponed till too late to be of service. With the intention also of giving the earliest circulation, the Foreign Office supplies copies every month to the Chambers of Commerce."With regard to the Board of Trade, my own opinion is, it would not be very advantageous to produce a Report periodically of the proceedings of that Department, because they extend over a vast variety of subjects and go through numerous and almost numberless details. I have considered the matter myself, and the balance of my opinion goes in this way, that it would, not be desirable for the Board of Trade to make any such general and comprehensive Report as that hinted at in the Question of my hon. Friend.