HC Deb 09 July 1883 vol 281 cc773-4

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Whether it is the fact that many Acts of Parliament, classed as "Local Acts," which are of great importance to the public in the localities they affect, such as Towns Improvement and Gas and Water Acts, are out of print; whether copies of these Acts can be obtained at all; and, if so, upon what terms; whether it is not right that the public should be able to obtain copies of all Acts of Parliament at a fixed and reasonable charge; and, whether he would consider the propriety of supplying local and public institutions, such as free libraries, with copies of all Acts (both public and local) without charge; and, also, of reducing the charge for the public general Acts of each Session with which it is very desirable that all Her Majesty's subjects should be acquainted?


Sir, my hon. Friend is, perhaps, not aware that under present arrangements the Queen's printers, and not any Government Department, have in their hands the sale of Acts, both Public and Private. The Government have, therefore, no official knowledge whether any Local Acts are out of print. The Queen's printers are bound to sell to the public any Acts that may be required at a price not exceeding 3d. per folio sheet for Private Acts and 1½d. for Public Acts; but there is some doubt whether they are bound to reprint, unless the sale of not less than 25 copies is guaranteed. The present arrangement comes to an end in about two years, and will then be open to reconsideration; I should hope arrangements might be made for facilitating the sale; but I doubt whether the price of the Public Acts could be reduced below the present very moderate price of 1d. per sheet for the Acts of the current year. My hon. Friend further suggests that copies of the Acts should be presented to free libraries and others. Apart from the objections to gratuitous distribution, I doubt very much whether such local libraries, whose space is necessarily limited, would welcome the four or more annual bulky volumes of Private Acts, very few of which could possibly be of the slightest use to their readers.