HC Deb 20 February 1883 vol 276 cc403-4

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, What is the reason for the immense increase of the cost of the last volume of the Fac-similes of Irish National Manuscripts, which must narrow the circle of readers, and prevent the volume having any real circulation; and, when it is expected that the publication will be completed?


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Whether the price of the last volume of the Fac-similes of Irish National MS. amounts to five guineas; whether the price of previous volumes was only two guineas; whether the price of similar Scotch volumes was only one guinea; and, whether he will take care that the future publications of the series are not at a price which prohibits circulation?


Sir, besides making inquiries, I have myself looked at the volumes to which the right hon. Members for Dublin and Cambridge Universities refer. There has been a constant tendency to produce each successive volume of these publications in increased bulk, and in a more elaborate style. The simpler work of the earlier Irish and of the English and Scotch volumes, besides being in itself loss costly, could be done at the Ordnance Survey Office. Thus it was possible to fix their prices at the low figures named in the second Question. But the elaborate coloured work of the third Irish volume surpassed the resources of the Ordnance Survey Office, and the Stationery Office had, therefore, to undertake the work, which it executed by ordinary trade contract. The price of that volume remained, however, at £2 2s.; and the consequence was that the Exchequer incurred a heavy loss, while all the available copies of the work were bought up, and are now being offered for sale, I am told, at £8 to £10 a copy. The price of the fourth volume was fixed in the regular manner so as to cover the cost of production, without any charges for authorship. Viewed in this way, it is, therefore, not excessive; and the fact that 120 out of 550 copies have been sold in two months shows that the price is by no means prohibitory for the class who purchase such works. I have also to inform the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University (Mr. Gibson) that the second section of part four is in hand; but I cannot say when it will be published. I think it is certainly open to question whether this series should be produced in so sumptuous a fashion; and I will make further inquiries with a view of ascertaining whether it is not expedient to return to the simpler style of the earlier volumes.


gave Notice that, in consequence of the answer he had just received, he would call attention to that subject on going into Supply.