§ (1.) £9,690, to complete the sum for the Paymaster General's Office.
§ (2.) £3,033, to complete the sum for the Public Works Loan Commission.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, he desired to know, in relation to the item of £1,500 for a solicitor, whether, with this considerable salary, the solicitor was allowed to carry on private practice? Did that gentleman devote the whole of his time and attention to the work of the Department, or was he, as the Chief Law Officers of the Government were, allowed to carry on as much practice in addition as he chose? If this were the case, then it was a bad principle, and ought to be challenged on all occasions. £1,500 a-year seemed to him sufficient to secure all the attention of a solicitor. Another item under Sub-head D seemed to demand notice: £800 for clerks' salaries. It seemed to him that this expenditure on solicitors' clerks was wholly unnecessary. Also, he wished to know whether the counsel who received the fees under Sub-head E were Law Officers of the Crown or were independent counsel?
§ MR. C. T. D. ACLAND (Cornwall, Launceston)
asked, whether any loans 571 had been granted at the reduced rate sanctioned?
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
said, he was not aware that any loans had actually been granted under the reduced rate of interest. True, the Government had sanctioned a reduced rate of interest where adequate security was given; but he was not able to say distinctly whether any such loans had been actually granted. As hon. Members were aware, these loans would not come directly under his Department; they were arranged and disposed of by the Public Works Loans Commissioners, a Body constituted by Parliament, and occupying an independent position. Exception had been taken to the item for the solicitor's salary; but he reminded the Committee of the importance of the duties of that official. The solicitor had to advise the Commissioners as to the security offered on the various applications for loans. The amount of loans was large, and the work involved the exercise of considerable knowledge and very great care. He (Mr. Jackson) believed he could refer to the work hitherto done by the Commissioners as commanding the confidence of the House and the public. The amounts set down from time to time as fees for counsel's opinion were really small. The amounts actually expended in 1887 were £69 10s. 7d.; in 1886, £63 7s. 6d.; in 1885, £79 13s. 6d.; and he would point out that these amounts covered consultations, not only in the cases of making loans, but in regard to very difficult cases where proceedings had to be taken for the recovery of principal and interest.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
asked, whether the counsel mentioned were independent counsel or the Law Officers of the Crown; and if the latter, were these cases exceptions to the ordinary rule?
§ MR. CONYBEARE
said, he wished to point out that when the Attorney General and the Solicitor General were paid high salaries for doing the work of the nation, it was not desirable that payments should also be made to independent counsel. Scattered over numerous Votes occurred these small items for 572 work which the Law Officers were paid to do.
§ Vote agreed to.
(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £7,634, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1889, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Public Record Office.
§ MR. T. E. ELLIS (Merionethshire)
said, in connection with this Vote he desired to impress upon the Department the desirability of cheapening the publications of the Record Office. The number of people interested in these publications was increasing yearly, and if the price were reduced there would no doubt be a much larger sale, though of course it could never be expected that the sale would be equal to that of a fashionable three volume novel. Some two Sessions since he asked a Question as to reducing the price of certain publications—Records regarding Wales, and the reply he received was that there was not enough sale of the book to warrant the issue at a cheaper rate, but he still held to the opinion that the principle obtained in this matter, as in regard to many other ventures, that cheapening the price would lead to a larger and remunerative sale. Would it not also be possible to modify the rule made some months ago which prevented searchers in the Record Office from using any ink? No such rule had been found necessary in the British Museum and elsewhere, and it entailed an immense amount of labour on men who first had to make their copy at the Office in pencil and then copy that again in ink. But the chief point to which he wished to call attention was that more attention should be paid by the Record Office to Records relating to public matters in connection with Wales before and since the Union. Many of these, especially the Records of the Council of Wales and the Marches, and of Henry Commission on Welsh Laws, were of the utmost importance, and were not in the Record Office, but were scattered over the country. Could not steps be taken to secure these National Records for the nation? Many had relation to most important matters in connection with 573 the industrial and social life of Wales. Upon the publication of MSS. and Records in relation to England, Scotland, and Ireland much money had been spent, to the great advantage of historical students, and no money had been better spent, but his complaint was that in regard to the great mass of Welsh MSS. there was no kind of calendar prepared. Two books were published by the Office in 1838 and 1841, The Ancient Laws and Institutes of Wales and The Record of Carnarvon, and they had been of immense value. Very earnestly he desired, on behalf of Welsh scholars and those who took an interest in the history and social life of ancient Wales, to impress on the Government the desirability of appointing a Welsh scholar or Welsh scholars to make a calendar of Welsh MSS., as had been done for England. The State having undertaken the custody of these Records, it was no less the duty of the State to do this for the Welsh as well as other Records. Of ripe scholarship for the purpose there was no lack among Welshmen, but you keep the Records, and do not endow a Welsh University, or a Welsh Historical Society, nor establish in Wales a National Council which would have power enough to take the initiative. As it was, private scholars from Oxford and elsewhere had, at immense cost, published Welsh MSS., such as in the case of England, Scotland, and Ireland had been published at public expense. He hoped the justice of the Welsh claim would be recognized.
§ MR. ELTON (Somerset, Wellington)
said, he desired information on another point connected with the administration of the Office and with English history. Of course, hon. Members were aware there was a new Deputy Keeper of Public Records, and this was somewhat re-assuring in regard to the selections made for publication. The deepest dissatisfaction existed as to the selections made in recent volumes, and, taking the four last volumes, more useless material for the history of the country he had not seen. It was quite true two of them were connected with the history of the Orkneys and Shetland, but then they were written in Icelandic, and published without notes and translation. He believed that many years ago a translation was ordered, and, for aught he knew, paid for, 574 and the great names of Sir George Dasent and Mr. Vigfusson were mentioned, but on examination of these volumes he did not find that Sir George Dasent had contributed anything more than the identification of a particular town. This was a most unsatisfactory state of things. He would like to know if these Icelandic publications were to be continued; and also whether editors were engaged upon any Records illustrative of English history? Another volume recently published was The Chronicle of Robert of Brunne. This had but a faint connection with English history, and, besides, it had been printed before. The only interesting part of the volume was the preface, but this also had already been published, so that the whole appeared to be but a hash up of an old book. He noticed that on the list of publications this Chronicle of Robert of Brunne was described by the editor as a work of fiction, and as a contribution, not to English history, but to the history of English. Of course, this was a plain confession that the authorities thought they had done wrong in printing a work of fiction, and that it was a contribution to philology and not of history. In any case it was a waste of money. He hoped to have an assurance that the new broom in the Office would sweep away these causes of dissatisfaction. With much said in reference to Welsh Records he agreed, but he hoped also that if the Department broke away from the English language they would not forget Irish as well as Welsh.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
said, the Irish Members had a particular interest in the Record Office. He remembered bearing of some historians who were rather surprised, when they came to investigate the documents of the Record Office, to find that the Papers relating to the history of Ireland were absolutely more complete than those relating to the administration of England. Of course Ireland, having this government, had to be governed much more by correspondence and much less by personal interviews than England, and consequently the documents concerning the administration of Ireland were in a more complete state than those touching the administration of England. That being the case, it rather astonished him to find there was no Vote providing for the publication of the Irish docu- 575 ments. He supposed that Ireland was to pay about £2,000 of this Vote, and as far as he could see there was nothing in the Vote respecting the publication of documents in connection with the history of Ireland; all he noticed in the Vote concerning Ireland was the sum of £300 for Irish manuscripts. Again, when a mission was sent to a foreign country it was generally with reference to English history. For instance, he noticed in the Vote a charge of £500 for "Transcripts from Rome." The Government did not seem to consider the case of Ireland at all. However, what he was particularly anxious to know from the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) was, who had the appointment of the men who were sent upon foreign missions, and who were the gentlemen sent upon these missions? Of course, they all knew that when a man was sent to a foreign country, and allowed to select his own documents free from any control, he could colour his brief in almost any way he liked. This was not his (Colonel Nolan's) own idea; the idea was founded upon a circumstance that happened four or five years ago. A Roman Catholic was appointed to the British Museum, and objection was taken to him on the ground that he might colour history. Accordingly he sent in his resignation, and the Ministry had to accept it. Therefore it was that he wanted to know who the gentlemen were who were sent on these foreign missions, and whether they would have power to colour history? He also desired to obtain some explanation as to how these documents were catalogued. In the British Museum there were catalogues of State Papers which had been occasionally published by the Record Office, but in looking over the catalogues he did not know how much responsibility for them was assumed by the British Museum and how much by the Record Office. Did the British Museum simply publish the catalogues as they received them from the Record Office, or were the catalogues made up by the British Museum?
§ MR. HENNIKER HEATON (Canterbury)
said, he rose to bear testimony to the admirable manner in which the Record Office was conducted, but he would like some information in regard to the item of £500 for "Transcripts from 576 Rome." With regard to the remarks of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Galway (Colonel Nolan), he suggested that if the able officers of the Department gave hon. Members a fuller account of the work done every year, or the work intended to be done, it would save the Committee a great deal of trouble, and he was sure it would be extremely interesting.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
said, he was very glad indeed to hear the hon. and learned Member for the Wellington Division of Somersetshire (Mr. Elton) suggest that whatever funds might be set aside for the purposes of the Record Office, the Irish language would not be forgotten. The Irish language was a very interesting language historically, and there were many documents throwing light upon the history of these countries written in the Irish language. He believed it was a fact that many foreigners, Germans in particular, devoted themselves to the study of the Irish language, in order to examine the documents written in that language.
There is nothing relating to the study of the Irish language in this Vote. The Vote entirely refers to the documents illustrative of English history.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
said, he was coming to that point. He maintained that there were learned professors on the Continent of Europe who had devoted themselves to the study of the Irish language in order to decipher the manuscripts in the Irish language which existed on the Continent of Europe appertaining to English history, and it was the duty of the Government of England to provide for the transcription of these manuscripts. The hon. and gallant Member for North Galway (Colonel Nolan) was perfectly right in drawing attention to this fact, and in asking the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury what steps he was prepared to take, or what steps had been taken, in regard to the valuable Irish manuscripts which existed at the present moment. Irishmen had a great interest in this matter, not only in regard to the preservation of the Irish language, but also in regard to the illustration of the history of Ireland as it referred to English history. He thought it would be worth the while of 577 the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury to investigate the subject, and to go to Ireland and discover who the persons in that country were who were capable of transcribing these valuable manuscripts. There were many men in Ireland who possessed not only a thorough knowledge of the Irish language, but an historical knowledge of the language. There were many men, not only in Ireland but on the Continent, who were capable not only of investigating such manuscripts, but of finding out where the manuscripts were. He thought that such men ought to be encouraged to pursue their studies, not only for the sake of the present generation, but for the sake of history itself. All that was wanted were the facts, and the facts of history were contained in these manuscripts. The facts of history were crystallized in these manuscripts, and they were most interesting not only to the Irish people, but to the student of history all over the world. After the lapse of centuries people were not likely to get angry about anything which might be divulged by these manuscripts; the transcription of the manuscripts was looked upon simply front an historical point of view. He agreed with his hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Nolan) that the Committee should receive some information as to the men engaged in deciphering these manuscripts, and not only that, but that they should have some assurance from the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury that proper men would be so engaged. There was no use in appointing learned men from English Universities to perform this work. There were men in Ireland who were specially qualified to do it—men who had the very instinct of the historical knowledge necessary in order to investigate these documents. He could not help thinking that it would be a matter that would give satisfaction to the learned men, not only of this country, but of all nations, if the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury would devote a sum of money to the purpose of providing the best men possible to investigate this very interesting subject. He sincerely trusted the Secretary to the Treasury would heed the remarks of his hon. and gallant Friend, which formed no captious criticism. He (Mr. J. O'Connor) and his hon. Friends had 578 national and historical interest in the subject, and he trusted the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Jackson) would give them some satisfactory answer, that he would assure them that the best men would be sought out, and that they would be sent abroad to elucidate matters of history by investigating interesting records which existed in the archives of the Continent.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
said, that anyone who read the Parliamentary Papers, issued from time to time, must acknowledge the pleasure which was afforded by the perusal of the manuscripts which were given out by the Record Office. He had gone to the trouble of trying to get the whole series of historical documents, but he found that so great was the demand that it was practically impossible to get a certain number of volumes. This in itself showed that the work was extremely valuable, and that if the affairs of the Record Office were properly carried out, a real benefit would be conferred not merely on the people of to-day but on the people of the future. He could not help smiling when he looked at this Vote. At the present moment the management of the affairs of the Empire were practically in the hands of the noble Marquess the Leader of the Government and his distinguished nephew, the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour). This distinguished family was practically the arbiter of the affairs of England, and it appeared they desired to be the arbiters of the affairs of America also. It was very extraordinary that the principal documents, for the transcription of which the Committee were now asked to vote this money, appertained to the Cecil family. By a note at the foot of the page they saw that two of the senior clerks, who had already besides their salary £52 a-year and an official residence, received £50 a-year out of the Vote for Temporary Commissions for making a calendar of Cecil manuscripts at Hatfield out of office hours, and that two others were paid £50 for special duties. The entire sum of money to be passed to this account was £4,275, being an increase of £15 upon last year. When hon. Members noticed an increase they always tried to find out what was the reason of the increase. In respect to this matter they found that the increase was caused 579 by the attempt to glorify the immortal and glorious Cecil family. From another note it would appear that there were two junior clerks also receiving £50 a-year out of the same Vote for calendaring the Cecil manuscripts at Hatfield. So the Committee were asked to vote the sum of £200 to still further immortalize the noble Marquess at the head of Her Majesty's Government. When they were asked to vote money in connection with matters of comparatively recent historical date, he admitted they were asked to do real service. Anything which could throw light on the state of affairs which existed at the time of the Union, aye, and before the Union, the time before Ireland was annexed, or partly annexed to England, must of itself be of peculiar interest to hon. Members on all sides of the House and to the people of both countries at a time like the present. Hence it was that he expressed the hope that the suggestions which had been thrown out by hon. Members might receive that degree of attention at the hands of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury which they deserved. They had heard a great deal during the past two or three years about the transcription of the Brehon Laws; but he could not help thinking that if more money was passed in connection with such transcription the work would be much more satisfactorily carried out. He had occasion recently to see the celebrated clergyman, Dr. Danell, of Macroom, who was now at Mitchelstown. Dr. Danell, associated with Dr. Healy, had spent a great deal of time in investigating these documents; but these gentlemen found that there was not enough money at their disposal. What he wished to convey was that when there was so much money being passed for the calendaring of the Cecil manuscripts, it would be well that more money should be devoted to the transcription of these ancient documents, which really formed a foundation upon which legislation might be based.
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
said, he desired to have some information with respect to the documents in Sweden and Denmark bearing upon Scotch history. It was most unfortunate that when this Vote was presented to the House no information was given at all upon this point. There was a reference to transcription from Rome, and to the 580 investigation of documents in the archives of so and so and so and so; but as to documents relating to the history of Scotland not the slightest information was given to the House, either as to the nature of the work undertaken, as to the men doing the work, or as to the value of the work for which Parliament was asked to pay. He also desired to know whether any part of the proposed expenditure was for the purpose of securing a translation of the Icelandic Code? There were no documents which were more valuable in the history of law than the Icelandic Code. That was a Code perfectly unique, and free from an infusion of Christian or Canon Law. Under the circumstances, he hoped that before they went to a Division or passed the Vote the Committee would receive some information on the subject.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
said, he desired to add his testimony to that given by the hon. Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Hunter) with respect to the Icelandic Code, as he had had the pleasure of studying that Code, now a good many years ago, and of fully appreciating the value of it from an historical and legal point of view. He also desired to know what limitation was placed upon the investigation of the documents in the Record Office? He understood that they were practically debarred from the investigation of documents in the Record Office relating to dates ulterior to the Union between England and Ireland. If there were any limitation he should be glad to know what it was. It appeared to him to be of the utmost importance that people should have access to all documents, whether of modern or ancient date.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, that with reference to what fell from the hon. Member for Merionethshire (Mr. T. E. Ellis), he thought that the question of cheapening the sale of the publications of the Record Office was one which might be fairly considered. The sale was not large, and they could not hope to get very much revenue from it, but he would, however, bring the subject before the attention of the Department. The hon. Member referred to the fact that some prohibition had been placed on the use of ink by searchers. He (Mr. Jackson) understood that some mischief was done, and that it was fully necessary in the 581 interests of the Department and the work generally that such a prohibition should be imposed. He was surd the hon. Gentleman would be the last person to interfere with the administrators of an Office if, after consideration, they came to the conclusion it was in the interests of the Department that a mischief like that should be avoided. The hon. Gentleman wished, very naturally, that a larger attention should be paid to the Records and to the history of Wales. Let him point out to the Committee that it was also difficult to him to meet the wishes of every part of the country and of every individual Member at the same time. The Government had but a limited sum at their disposal. Of course it might be said that the Vote could be enlarged, but he was bound to say that he had always deemed it his duty as far as he could to keep down expenditure. He believed that the Department was most anxious to give what he might call equitable treatment to every part of the country, and he would take care that the question raised by the hon. Gentleman was brought before the attention of the Department. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Wellington Division of Somerset (Mr. Elton) drew attention to the question of the Icelandic Code, and asked what progress had been made with that portion of the work which was entrusted to Sir George Dasent. Some time ago, in consequence of a question in the House upon the subject, he (Mr. Jackson) pressed upon Sir George Dasent the necessity of completing his portion of the work at the earliest possible date, and Sir George Dasent promised him that no time should be lost. It was only right to say that owing to the death of the senior Commissioner of the Civil Service more work had for a time been thrown on Sir George Dasent, and that he had not had so much time at his disposal for this work as perhaps he had anticipated. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Galway (Colonel Nolan) raised the question as to whether sufficient attention was paid to the Irish manuscripts? The hon. and gallant Gentleman was apparently under the impression that the only amount provided in the Estimates for Irish manuscripts was £300. That was not quite the fact, because the £300 which appeared under Sub-head C for 582 the purpose of the publication of Irish manuscripts was a sum which was placed on the Estimates after discussion in the House when the Estimate was last before the House. The hon. Member for Mayo pointed out that a Mr. Gilbert, a very well-known Irish antiquarian, was very competent to perform the work in connection with the register of the Abbey of St. Thomas of Canterbury in Dublin, and that the work would be to the public generally a work of great interest and importance. He (Mr. Jackson) undertook to consider the question, and to see in what way the hon. Gentleman's request could be met. In pursuance of that request he placed £300 on the Estimate for the purpose of carrying out the work. In addition to that there was an amount of £280 on the Stationery Office Vote for the work in connection with the Brehon Laws, and there was a provision of £481 for Celtic manuscripts and Annals of Ulster, making a total of £1,061 specially devoted to Irish manuscripts. He thought that under such circumstances hon. Gentlemen would be satisfied that Ireland had not been neglected. He was asked what were the names of the men sent on the missions to Rome and other places? There was an Annual Report published, and in that Report would be found the names of those gentlemen. Mr. W. H. Grist was the gentleman sent to Rome, Mr. Rawdon Brown to Venice, and Messrs. Bliss and Macray to Sweden. As to the catalogue of the British Museum, he understood that that catalogue only dealt with books and works in the British Museum itself; the printing was done by the Stationery Office. When the catalogue was complete it was sent to the Stationery Office, and the printing was done there. The hon. Member for South Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor) had raised a somewhat large question. He had said that there were somewhere on the Continent of Europe, largely in Germany, men who had devoted themselves to the study of the Irish language. He (Mr. Jackson) was afraid he could not promise to send a roving commission to the Continent for the purpose of finding out those gentlemen. His experience was that they had more applications for the work than they could supply. The hon. Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. 583 Hunter) asked what was the nature of the work, the names of those engaged in it, and the value of it? He had already given the names of those employed. As to the value of the work, he was afraid he could not give him any more information; indeed, his (Mr. Jackson's) opinion on the subject could not be as good as the opinion of the hon. Gentleman himself. He could not be aware of the details of the Office, which was an independent Office. All he could do was to bring before the Commissioners—which he would take care to do—the opinions which had been expressed in the House. The hon. Member for the Camborne Division of Cornwall (Mr. Conybeare) asked the date up to which searches were allowed and extracts permitted to be made. He believed that, roughly speaking, the limitation extended to about 100 years back. He did not know that that date was actually fixed, but it was somewhere about that period.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
asked the hon. Gentleman if he had any objection to put it before the consideration of the officials of the Record Office whether the limitation could not be shortened, say to 50 years?
§ MR. JACKSON
said, he bad no objection to do that, but he thought they must leave some discretion to those who had knowledge of the documents and of all the circumstances.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
said, that in the Record Office, as well as he could remember, there were three special series—namely, that dealing with home affairs, that dealing with domestic affairs, and that dealing with foreign affairs. There was also a fourth series, which, he thought, was called the Roman Calendar. The limit of a 100 years was an absolute fiction. The Committee would hardly believe that in the publication of these documents, which dealt essentially with the true history of our country, the date at which the publication had arrived was about the middle of the 16th century. The domestic series, he believed, came up to about 1560. Ayone who had devoted any attention to history knew that the documents which were being translated or published of that period were documents which were forged to a very large extent. At that period of history it was the custom of statesmen not to record actual 584 documents, but to invent documents for the purpose of being recorded. It was utterly ridiculous that the Records of a great country like this should be so far in arrear as he had stated. But, while we were in arrear, Germany and France had brought the publication of their Records up to the end of the first Napoleonic period. It was very difficult for the historian in this country to get permission to examine the more recent documents; but, at the same time, we granted permission to foreign historians to come over here and examine our documents. A celebrated German historian had actually had access to the documents up to the end of the first Napoleonic period, and had published his interpretation of their value, whereas our own historians could not do that. He (Mr. Molloy) could not understand on what ground this policy was built up. They were told that the documents were under the control of the Master of the Rolls; but, as a matter of fact, they were under the control of the Government, and the only reason he could find for the present extraordinary state of things was that the matter had never been ventilated in Parliament. In his opinion the country was entitled to ask that these historical documents, which were of such grave interest and importance to us, should be published. That there were still living descendants of the people affected he did not think was an excuse for the people being kept in the dark which the House of Commons would be willing to accept. The whole system of the Record Office was a system of idiotic secrecy which permeated the whole of our diplomatic history. There was now an endeavour to keep back from the public information to which they were entitled. He maintained that if the Records were carried up to anything like a reasonable date—he meant a reasonable date from a common sense point of view, not our own date—the view they had all been compelled to take of history would be absolutely changed, and the confusion surrounding our history at present would cease. What objection could there be to the records up to the first Napoleonic period being published; how could such publication affect anybody? He was confident there were Despatches and State Papers in the Record Office which would entirely alter the present view of that 585 period. But, suppose it did, was it not better they should know the truth than that they should go on publishing fiction and wasting the time of those who engaged in historical research?
§ MR. HENNIKER HEATON
said, there appeared to be some misapprehension as to the facts relating to the Record Office. As he had been engaged, more or less, for the last five years in inspecting documents, he might explain what the system was. First of all, an order was to be got to go to the Office, and when a person went there he selected the documents he wanted to see. When the documents had been copied by the person employed by the Searcher, they were submitted to the Home Office, or other Office concerned, and then, if there was anything found in the copy affecting any living person, the copy was not allowed to be taken away. He had taken copies from documents in the Record Office, reaching up to the year 1830, and no objection had ever been taken to his doing so. When, on a certain occasion, however, a friend of his had his attention drawn to the fact that the publication of one document would be injurious to persons living, it was omitted. He thought that anyone might copy any document up to 1830, so long as the publication was not objectionable to anyone. Of course, the publication of some documents would create such an annoyance in the country that the Office would be very soon closed. In his opinion, the present system was a good one; for he assured hon. Members no objection was raised to the publication of documents which were not calculated to injure public morality or private character.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
said, that they had now got the cat out of the bag, for it appeared that the only reason why this restriction was put upon the publication of Records was the fear of injuring the susceptibilities of persons Low living. It was obvious there could be nothing affecting the safety of the country in publishing documents so far back as the first quarter of this century, say to 1825, or down to the first Napoleonic era. But when the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Henniker Heaton) talked about public morality being affected, it was quite evident he was drawing upon his imagination. Were the Statesmen of old men of such 586 immoral character that the hon. Gentleman was afraid of their proceedings being brought to light? He (Mr. Conybeare) submitted that, in dealing with the National and Imperial affairs of this country, the private susceptibilities of individuals were not to be set up against the interest of the whole country. At the present moment, they were dealing with the question of the relation between England and Ireland, and if they were to settle that great question on anything like a satisfactory basis, they must know intimately and accurately the historical proceedings connected with the union which took place between the two countries at the end of the last century. To say that they were to be debarred from studying that important part of the National history because, forsooth, Lord Castlereagh—of course he did not mean the present Lord—was a scoundrel or a fool, or because other individuals were rogues or thieves, was the most monstrous thing he had over heard of. He protested in the strongest possible manner against the private susceptibilities of individual families being set up against the National interest. He trusted that the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury would give the Committee some assurance that he would bring the views which had been expressed in the course of this discussion before the Keeper of the Records and the Master of the Rolls, so that this absurd idea might be got rid of before the Vote came on for discussion next year. It was most desirable that such absurd Regulations should be done away with. If not, he should certainly feel it his duty to take the sense of the Committee upon the matter.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, that one incident which had occurred in the course of the discussion had given him some concern. He had listened attentively to what he had considered to be the very quiet, temperate, and, throughout, not at all Party speech made by the hon. Member for King's County (Mr. Molloy). The hon. and learned Member made an appeal for information to the only Cabinet Minister who was at the time upon the Treasury Bench—the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary—with reference to a suggestion which might fairly be made by the Government to the Master 587 of the Rolls, or whoever happened to be the proper official for dealing with these records, in regard to the way in which they were dealt with in future. Instead of a soft answer being given—and they were told that "a soft answer turneth away wrath"—the Home Secretary treated the matter with entire contempt, and left the House. He (Mr. Bradlaugh) had no wish to embitter the discussion, but he felt it his duty to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £250, in order that the right hon. Gentleman might come back and at least give a civil answer to the question which had been addressed to him.
Motion made, and Question proposed.
That a reduced sum, not exceeding £7,384, be granted for the said service.—(Mr. Bradlaugh.)
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
thought that, in the absence of his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, he ought to say, on his behalf, that certainly no discourtesy was intended to the hon. and learned Member for King's County; but his right hon. Friend was not the proper person to give an explanation of the Vote.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
said he had listened to the words of his hon. and learned friend. His hon. and learned Friend said that, as it was possible the Secretary to the Treasury was not authorized to promise, he would address his question to the only Minister who was at the time upon the Treasury Bench.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, he did not think his right hon. Friend understood that appeal had been made to him, or that any answer was expected from him. At any rate he (Mr. Jackson) was in a position to say that his right hon. Friend had no intention of being discourteous to the hon. and learned Member for King's County. The simple fact was that his right hon. Friend was quite unable, seeing that his own Department was not concerned, in the absence of other persons, to give an answer to the question of the hon. and learned Member.
§ MR. MOLLOY
remarked that as he had been referred to in the matter, he wished to say that he had most distinctly made an appeal to the Home Secretary, who happened to be the only Minister seated on the Treasury Bench. He did 588 not ask the right hon. Gentleman to make any binding declaration, or to give any decided answer, because he knew that it was not a matter of Governmental policy. All he asked was, that the right hon. Gentleman would cause a representation to be made to the proper persons that the time had come when the practice to which he had referred might, with advantage, be abandoned. The right hon. Gentleman made no reply. He did not know that his walking out of the House was of the smallest consequence; but he had made an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, and the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) had fairly stated the facts of the case. He agreed with the hon. Member for Northampton that the least the right hon. Gentleman could have done was to have risen in his place and stated whether he could or could not comply with the request made to him; instead of doing so, the right hon. Gentleman quietly sauntered out of the House as if the matter were one that was only fit to be treated with contempt.
§ MR. JACKSON
would give the hon. and learned Member an assurance that no discourtesy had been intended, and that the matter should be brought to the attention of the Government. From the information which bad been supplied to him, it would appear that the limited date of 100 years had been enforced in order that State documents might not be published which would be injurious to the interests or affect the character or conduct of living persons. Documents relating to much later periods than 100 years had been published or extracts made from them, and there was every desire on the part of the authorities to afford all the information it was in their power to give. The hon. and learned Member (Mr. Molloy) appeared to be labouring under a misapprehension when he stated that foreigners had been allowed to do that which Englishmen had not been allowed to do. He had no knowledge of any privileges or advantages having been given to foreigners, and he believed that the statement was incorrect. He believed there was no fixed period in the permissions given to inspect the records, and he was confirmed in that respect by the hon. Member for Canterbury. He hoped that the hon. Member for Northampton would be satisfied with the assurances he had 589 given, and would not press his Motion to a Division.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, the Secretary to the Treasury had done all in his power to give information to the Committee, and in the observations he (Mr. Molloy) had made, he desired to cast no reflection upon the hon. Gentleman. What he had said in regard to foreign historians was, that they had been allowed to make extracts, and that they were enabled in Germany and in other countries to publish records down to a recent date, which was not the case in this country. With the extracts made from State documents belonging to this country foreigners had been able to give the history of a particular period, while the same advantage was denied to Englishmen, because the State documents were not furnished within a period of 100 years of the time to which they related. He was satisfied with the explanation which had been given by the Secretary to the Treasury, and at some future time he would draw the attention of the House to the matter.
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
said, the question which had been raised was one of the greatest possible importance—namely, that the public documents preserved in the Record Office were kept secret for a period of 100 years. The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Henniker Heaton) had said that in some cases documents, as late as 30 years ago, had been allowed to be made the subject of inspection, and extracts permitted to be taken from some of them. What was the reason why the whole of the State Papers were not accessible? The allegation was that their publication might offend the susceptibilities of persons who were now living. He could understand the force of that remark if it were confined to the case of persons whose documents were preserved in the Record Office during their lifetime, and for this reason, that by the English law there was no limitation of time that would prevent a prosecution for crime, and if, therefore, any documents were published that would criminate any person during their lifetime, that would be a very good reason why they should not be published, so that the persons who had been guilty of criminal practices might not be brought within the precincts of the Old Bailey. But beyond that he denied that there was any justification for keeping 590 these documents back, even if persons had done something which they and their relatives did not wish to hear about. He was afraid that the refusal to produce these Public Records only gave force to a doctrine which was a most pernicious one—that a man was to be held responsible for the acts of his ancestors. He could understand, to a limited extent, the contrary doctrine. He thought that the misconduct of a child might reflect upon the parent as to the mode of instruction and the care and attention given to the child in his earlier years; but beyond that, no blame was to be attached to a parent for the conduct of a child. To suppose that a person was to be hold responsible for the acts of his grandfather or his granduncle was altogether too ridiculous to deserve consideration. He did not believe, therefore, that the Public Records should be withheld on account of any susceptibilities a man might feel in regard to the acts of his ancestors. It was quite enough for a man to bear the responsibility of his own actions. It was equally absurd to suppose that any man could derive either glory or discredit from anything done by other persons at the beginning of the century. The origin of the rule was perfectly intelligible. It was an old rule, which belonged to a time when England existed under an oligarchy or an aristocratical Government. Everyone knew that a Government by an oligarchy was a Government by fraud, and there was a natural desire that the frauds committed under it should not be exposed for 100 years, or until such time as the persons implicated had ceased to take any interest in public affairs, so that the exposure of fraud and wrong could do no possible harm. As long as harm might be done by the exposure of frauds, it was considered desirable that the frauds themselves should be kept secret. For his own part he should not care, in the least, for the publication of documents that were purely of a personal character and of no public importance, and if this were merely a question of the non-publication of documents which had not the slightest bearing upon the general interests of the public, he should have no wish to press the matter upon the attention of the Government. But, as he understood the rule adopted in the Record Office, it was altogether wrong, 591 and ought to be put right. The rule was that documents which were really of public interest should not be allowed to be published, because something might be contained in them which might be disagreeable to the descendants of persons who had figured in by gone generations. He hoped the Committee would allow him to point out the serious consequences that might follow from persisting in adhering to this mischievous and absurd rule. The period of 100 years covered the whole of the transactions relating to the legislative Union between England and Ireland, and if they were to rely upon the information of persons who had seen the documents in the Record Office relating to that period, he believed that if those documents were now published they would show that the methods employed in bringing about the Union were so flagitious, and that the whole history was such a record of rascality that, if fully disclosed, they would put an end to all the arguments of the Unionist party. The documents would bring to light such a system of fraud and corruption as the people of the present day had no idea of. These documents, however, were withheld from the public on the pretence that they contained allegations which would wound the susceptibilities of some of the descendants of Castlereagh and others. Every one of these documents ought to be in the hands of hon. Members. They were public documents, and in these days it was more silly non-sense to talk about the fear of wounding the susceptibilities of the descendants of anybody when the with holding of these State Papers simply interfered injuriously with the public interests.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
said, that after the explanation which had been given by the Secretary to the Treasury, it would be ungraceful if he were to persist in the Motion for the reduction of the Vote. Nevertheless, he still held the opinion he had expressed. With the leave of the Committee he would withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. J. NOLAN (Louth, N.)
said, he was of opinion that it was important to consider the bearing of this question upon Ireland. Everyone would admit that very great changes had taken place 592 since the attention of Her Majesty's Government was directed to the question of the Irish Records. He had no objection to make to the statement which had been made by the Secretary to the Treasury. Neither he nor any other Irish Representative could possibly object to any statement made by the hon. Gentleman, who was always courteous and always conciliatory. At the same time he thought the hon. Gentleman could scarcely expect the Irish Representatives to be perfectly satisfied with his assumption that out of a Vote of £21,634 for the Record Office, only £1,000 should go to Ireland. He quite agreed with the statement made by his hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor) that there were in Ireland at the present time several gentlemen whose services might with very great advantage be employed in the inspection of documents relating to Irish history. He had no desire to enter into a discussion of the question of Home Rule, but he certainly did hold that, when a country had a history, it was only right and proper that the people of that country should be made acquainted with it. He would express a hope that the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury would be prepared to accept any offers of assistance that might be made on this point in the sense expressed by his hon. Friend the Member for South Tipperary.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £18,567, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1889, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of the Registrar General of Births, &c. in England.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, he regretted that it was necessary for him to trouble the Committee upon this question. Only yesterday the Committee made a Grant in Aid to the English Registrar of £10,000, and now the Committee were asked to vote a further sum of £20,930 for the fees and expenses of Superintendent Registrars. He maintained that this was a local and not an Imperial charge, and pointed out that all the cost of registration in Scotland was defrayed by local rates. He objected to the Scotch taxpayers being compelled to pay their own rates, and being called upon further to pay a 593 portion of the English taxation for the same purpose. Looking at the two offices of Registrars General in England and Scotland, he found that while that of Scotland cost £9,700, that in England cost £47,000. Sub-head B of the present Vote gave the expenses of the Registrar and Superintendents, and one of the items was a very curious one. Fees to the amount of £55 were paid for certificates granted to medical men and dentists. In Scotland no such fees were charged, and he did not see why in this country they should be called upon to spend money foolishly in this manner. He felt that it would be necessary to take a Division upon the Vote, or otherwise the present system of charges might become perpetual. The £10,000 grant of yesterday was not to recur, but this Vote would appear again. He thought that England and Scotland should be placed on the same footing, and that the expense of registration should be defrayed by the local parishes, or by the Town Councils, and not provided for by two or three Votes of the House of Commons. He would, therefore, propose to strike out the proportion, although he did not know exactly how much it was that appeared in the Vote under Sub-head C. It ought not to be an Imperial charge at all, but ought to be a local charge.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That Item C, Fees and Expenses of Superintendent Registrars, &c. be reduced by £5,000."—(Dr. Clark.)
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
wished to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that they were now assembled in the month of November, and the Report of the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths for England and Ireland for the year 1887 had not yet been published. Indeed, it was not due until December. He attached great value to the statistics which were given in regard to births, marriages and deaths. It was a matter of great importance that every country should collect them, and collect them accurately, but he failed to see what advantage was derived from deferring the presentation 594 of the Report until the month of December. He regarded the early publication of statistcs of this nature as of the highest importance, and he thought that this Government should adopt some measure to expedite the work and to over-ride the tendency in the Registrar's Office to keep all the men in the Office uniformly employed over every month in the year. The result of the present system was that it was impossible to obtain a copy of the Report for 1887 even in the month of November, 1888. Of course, statistics 11 or 12 months old were never so valuable or so useful, or excited so much attention, as if they were published within four or five months. But although they had not received the Report of the Registrar General, he should like to call the attention of the Committee to the abstract of that Report which had been presented. A general abstract of the Report of Births, Marriages, and Deaths was published in advance of the Report itself, and this had already been issued. It was very short, consisting merely of four pages; but he must say that he thought it was a most useful document, and that it was of advantage to have it published in advance of the General Report. There was a note appended to it which stated that the figures might not be quite correct; but, nevertheless, it was most desirable that it should be given, especially when it was impossible to obtain the General Report itself until the month of December. Three different uses were made of the Registrar General's returns. In the first place, they were of importance from a medical point of view, and no doubt some hon. Members on that side of the House would deal with the Report from the medical point of view. There were also the Parliamentary and statistical and the military point of view. So far as the statistician was concerned, he was afraid the Report would be found to contain important omissions. The number of births, marriages, and deaths was given; but to understand the fluctuations in the population, and the reason why it increased in one country, such as England, and not in another, such as Ireland, it was absolutely necessary that the emigration returns should be published with the Report of the Registrar General. He thought it was desirable that the Registrar General should pub- 595 lish an Abstract of the Emigration Returns, so that it might be included, in future, in the abstract of the Returns of Births, Marriages, and Deaths. The abstract of the Registrar General's Report was, as far as he was aware, the only Paper they had at the present moment. It was the forerunner of the General Report of the Registrar General, and it afforded the only means by which an estimate could be formed of the increase of population. He would point out to the Minister in charge of the Vote—he presumed that it was the Secretary to the Treasury, for the hon. Member discharged a sort of omnibus duty, and might be looked upon as the head man of all work, being responsible for nearly everything connected with the Civil Service Estimates—he would point out to the hon. Gentleman that the abstract before the Committee was totally useless unless it gave an Abstract of the Emigration Returns. The Emigration Returns ought to be carefully collated with those of births, marriages, and deaths, and put in the same abstract. He would suggest that a couple of columns should be added to the document. Some of the information now supplied was certainly unnecessary. He found under the head of marriages that the number of marriages which took place within the year was given, and the next column went on to give a Return of the number of persons married. All he found was that the number of persons married was precisely double the number of marriages; for instanae, in one case 198 marriages were given, and in the next column the number of persons married was given as 396. If instead of inserting that unnecessary column the Registrar General would substitute the number of persons emigrating, the Paper would be made a most valuable one, and would afford hon. Members the means of estimating the increase of population in England, and the corresponding decrease which he was sorry to say had taken place in Ireland. He had made these remarks from a statistical point of view, but he thought there was an omission in the general policy of the Office. He had always considered, and his opinion was confirmed by that of a General Officer connected with the War Department, who sat above the Gangway on that (the Opposition) side of the House, that at 596 some time or other it would be necessary to divide England into military districts corresponding with the population. In that event, he had no doubt that the Registrar General's districts would be selected, and, therefore, he was of opinion that the people should be more familiarised and made acquainted with the Registrar General's districts, so that it might be readily known what they were. Personally he had not the faintest idea of what the boundaries of the Registrar General's district were in the place in which he lived, or how they corresponded with the Poor Law Unions. He believed, however, that they did correspond with them to a certain extent. Nor did he know how they corresponded with the baronies or voting districts. He would submit that more pains should be taken to make the public know what the Registrar General's districts were, so that the people might be made familiar with them. He alluded to this matter not simply from an every day point of view, but because he believed that some day or other the people of this country would have to employ some sort of Militia in the Military Service, and, as the Registrar General's districts would be most convenient for the purpose, they would in that event be invaluable.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, that before the Secretary to the Treasury replied he should like to emphasize what the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan) had stated, that it was exceedingly inconvenient not to have the Registrar General's Report published before the end of the year. It was quite clear that when hon. Members were called upon to discuss these questions on Reports that were twelve months old, very little good could result. There was one particular item of which he wished to have an explanation, and it would be found at page 162. "£20 for allowances to the purveyor of luncheons." What were the luncheons for?
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
said, the item referred to by the hon. Member for the Camborne Division of Cornwall (Mr. Conybeare) was a charge for providing luncheons to certain Ministers under exceptional circumstances, when they were detained in their office by a pressure of business.
§ MR. JACKSON
said he believed so, and he thought it was a very desirable provision, seeing that it afforded facilities for more rapid progress of important business. The hon. and gallant Member for Galway had raised a Question as to whether the Reports of the Registrar General of Births, Marriages and deaths would not be very much improved if additional columns were added showing the rate at which emigration was going on. This could not be done without increasing the cost of the Returns and entering into further departmental communications. He might point out that the Registrar General, in dealing with the question of births, marriages and deaths, had no control over nor did he take any account of the statistics relating to Emigration or any other Department. The Emigration Returns were under another Department altogether—the Board of Trade—but all the figures would be found set out in the Statistical Abstract.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, that the figures which the hon. and gallant Member proposed to add to the Registrar General's Report of his own work, and which related to the work of another and an entirely distinct Department, could hardly be mixed up with the statistics of the Department for which that officer was solely responsible. If the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member were carried out, the Registrar General would be required to give the figures of two officers, over which he had no control, and which were entirely distinct.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, the point he had raised was a practical one. The Abstract consisted of four pages only, but it was useless for medical purposes. The Registrar General's Returns were required by medical men to whom it would be inconvenient to refer to the Statistical Abstract for figures which could be so easily embodied in the Return already used; all that would be necessary would be to add one page or one column more, and he did not suppose that the cost of printing would be more than a few pounds. It must be remembered that when the Government issued an important paper giving an Abstract of the Registrar General's Reports, 598 everybody who wanted to build up any theory or establish any fact or rule in reference to the increase or decrease of population would go to that paper. He, therefore, submitted that the request he had made was not an unreasonable one.
§ MR. JACKSON
hoped the hon. and gallant Gentleman would not consider the remarks he had made unreasonable. He had already intimated that there was likely to be a difficulty on account of the figures asked for being supplied by another Department. He would look into the matter and see if anything could be done in regard to it.
§ DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
remarked that the Secretary to the Treasury had disclosed a terrible picture of the sweating system in high public offices when he stated that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and other Ministers had to eat their lunch in the midst of their work, like an ordinary sweating tailor in the Metropolis. His hon. Friend the Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark) had moved the reduction of the Vote in respect of sundry items which were charged in England upon Imperial taxation, whereas in Scotland they were charged upon the local rates. That, he apprehended, was the practical point now before the Committee. He had not looked into the subject personally, but he thought the details given by his hon. Friend fully illustrated the unfairness of the principle upon which all these Grants in Aid were made. No doubt it might be difficult to allocate which country was to receive a larger share than another, but he thought it right to enter a protest against the system upon which the allocation at present took place.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, his answer to the remarks of the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) was that he had no power to make any variation in these charges. He was not intimately acquainted with the way in which the charges were borne; and all he had to point out was that they were charges imposed by Statute, and defrayed according to the provisions of the Statute. The hon. Gentleman had again returned to the charge, that in the distribution of the Grants in Aid Scotland did not receive its fair share. That was not so, and the hon. Member was labouring under a misapprehension.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
said, he hoped he might be allowed to explain how the matter stood. If they took the gross sum given to the Registrar General's Office in Scotland, and the gross sum given to the Registrar General in England, he did not think there would be found much to complain of. In Scotland £5,948, or about £6,000, was received, while in England the sum amounted to about £48,000, so that practically England got about eight times more than Scotland, or little more than the fair proportion Scotland bore towards England. It must, however, be taken into consideration that the expense of living in London was considerably greater than it was in Edinburgh. There was another reason for the discrepancy which appeared in the apportionment, and it was this. In England the registration fees were not paid by the local rates, as in Scotland; and it was necessary, therefore, in England to maintain superintendents to supervise the staff, which necessitated an expenditure that amounted to £14,000 a-year. There was no corresponding expenditure of that kind in Scotland; and, therefore, if Scotland did not receive any analagous sum, it was because no similar work was done, and consequently the expenditure was not required.
§ DR. CLARK
said, that the fees received by the Superintendent Registrars were paid into the Imperial Exchequer; but there was no corresponding office or payment in Scotland. Reference had been made to the item of £55 paid in the shape of fees for medical certificates; but that item also did not apply to Scotland. Nor did the sum which was granted by the Committee yesterday. He had certainly been somewhat astonished at the observations which had fallen from the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Caldwell). If they did not pay men per head as much in Scotland as in England, it must be remembered that Scotland was a far poorer country, and they were acting, consequently, more unfairly towards Scotland in imposing exceptional burdens upon a country less able to bear them. The difference in the cost of living in London and Edinburgh was certainly not so great as to justify the discrepancy in the payments; and he would remind the Committee that it was 600 by Act of Parliament the English had all these unfair advantages. As they could not repeal the Act which imposed the injustice upon Scotland, the only thing they could do was to take a Division upon the Vote by way of protest. Of course, when the Division Bell was rung, hon. Members would come in from the Lobby to support the Government who knew no more about the question than the Man in the Moon.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
said, he should like to have some explanation of the item of £55, representing the expense of registrars' certificates of the death of medical men. He found that a similar sum was taken last year, and he wanted to know whether the Committee were to understand, as would appear from the entry, that exactly the same number of medical men died this year as last, or that the number of certificates of the death of medical men tallied for the two years. The entry certainly appeared to him to be somewhat incomprehensible, and he hoped the hon. Gentleman was able to afford some explanation of it.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, the only explanation he could give was to point out that the amount given in the Vote was only an estimate of the amount that would probably come into the expenditure of the year. It did not follow that the expenditure was to be £55 during the year. It was only a provision to meet an estimated expenditure.
§ DR. CLARK
said, that fees were paid for sending a copy of the Registrar's Certificates to medical men, but as there was a General Medical Council he was of opinion that that General Medical Council ought to defray any expense of this kind. The Council drew many thousands of pounds in the course of the year from the Medical Profession. They spent it among themselves, but what they did with the large sums of money they received he really did not know. Charges of this kind ought to come out of the fees paid to the Medical Council, and ought not to be paid by Parliament. Every medical student whose name was placed on the Registrar was required to pay a fee when he became a duly qualified medical man. He thought the Medical Council could not spend much 601 more than one half of the revenue they received, and yet the public were called upon to pay charges of this kind. The Government were bringing in a Bill to compel medical men to give a certificat of death free to the Officer of Health, and also a certificate when any person fell ill, and yet the Registrars of Deaths were to be paid fees of this kind. He thought the fees ought to be defrayed by the persons in charge of the Registries, and should not come out of Imperial taxation.
§ MR. CALDWELL
said, his contention was that something should be done to lower the expenditure generally.
§ DR. TANNER
said, that one fact after another tended to throw light on the very imperfect way in which these Estimates were prepared. Complaints on this score were made last year, and an undertaking was then given that all the Estimates submitted to the House would in future be prepared with greater care and accuracy. Instead, however, of greater accuracy having been secured, he was afraid that the Estimates underwent a process of "cooking" for the delectation of the Members of that House. He hoped that the hon. Gentleman who was responsible for this Vote would see that in future the Estimates were more carefully prepared, and submitted in a way that would render them intelligible. The knowledge and ability possessed by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury would, he hoped, enable the hon. Gentleman to bring out of chaos something which the Committee of Supply could understand, and something that would tend to the promotion of economy by enabling hon. Members to cut down all unnecessary expenditure.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 44; Noes 123: Majority 79.—(Div. List, No. 279.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £185,977, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1889, for Stationery, Printing, and Paper, Binding, and Printed Books for the several Departments of Govern-
ment in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and some Dependencies, and for the two Houses of Parliament, and for the Salaries and Expenses of the Establishment of the Stationery Office, and the cost of Stationery Office Publications, and of the Gazette Offices; and for sundry Miscellaneous Services, including a Grant in Aid of the publication of Parliamentary Debates.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, he begged to propose a reduction of the Vote by £500. He did not know that he should press the Motion, but he had put down his Notice mainly for the purpose of attracting attention to the Stationery Department, and of eliciting some sort of explanation from Her Majesty's Government with regard to the enormous expenditure on several of the items. He alluded especially to printing paper and binding for the two Houses of Parliament. He found that these items amounted to £65,000. This was £5,000 less than last year, and to that extent was satisfactory, but still the figure was an enormous one. Everyone in the House knew what a vast number of perfectly useless Blue Books and Papers he was inundated with, and hon. Members might well imagine that they would be blocked up in their own houses if they were compelled to receive all these publications. He would suggest to the Government whether it would not be desirable to send round a list to every Member each morning of the special Papers the authorities thought it desirable that Members of the House should have at once, and also a list of the Papers which were at the disposal of Members if they wished to have them, and then for each Member to communicate with the Department, stating that he required this or that Paper or document. As it was, an unnecessarily largo number of Blue Books and Papers were printed. The printing and paper cost money, and he maintained that a large part of the expenditure was utterly thrown away. He believed there might be a saving effected in the way he suggested of at least £2,500 per annum. He wished also to draw the attention of the Government to the present excessive price of Acts of Parliament, and also of Blue Books. He happened to have some practical knowledge of this subject, and that was one reason why he called the attention of the Committee to it. The major part of the cost of printing a book lay in the type setting, and no doubt if only a few 603 copies were printed it rendered the production expensive, but after a certain number were printed the cost of producing duplicates was merely the cost of the ink and the paper and machinery. The cost of some Papers which left the Stationery Office, so far as the material of which it was composed was concerned, would not be more than 1d., whereas 9d. or 10d. was charged for it. His point was that there were many of these documents which it would be very useful to circulate throughout the country, and which would be largely bought if the prices charged were reasonable, and he would suggest, therefore, that after the number of copies required by the authorities were printed, other copies should be offered to public libraries and the public at popular prices. He thought, indeed, there ought to be some means of sending to the large public libraries of the country any important documents they required which were printed at the public expense. This was not done at the present moment, and there was great complaint on the part of the public libraries in regard to it. If these Papers were not sent to the libraries they might, at any rate, allow these institutions to purchase them at the actual cost of producing extra copies, and not at the original cost of producing them. He trusted that whoever was in charge of this Vote would give the Committee full explanation of it, bearing in mind the points to which he had adverted. He begged to move the reduction of which he had given Notice.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the sum of £185,477 be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said, he quite agreed with the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) in thinking that the time had come when some change should be made in the system of distributing Papers in this and the other House of Parliament. He (Mr. Bartley) had had some considerable experience in regard to printing, and he felt sure that if the Government were in accord with the whole House something would be done to very much reduce the expenditure. He found that each Member received something like 2 cwt. of books every year, and to go through these, supposing a man allowed himself one-and-a-half 604 minutes to read a page and devoted six hours a-day to the perusal of the Papers, it would occupy him 250 days every year. No doubt Members of the House should have access to every conceivable document which was published in relation to the government of the country; but he thought it would be quite compatible with this to reduce the present Vote even further than was suggested by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Labouchere). He ventured to think that considerable saving might be effected in the way in which the Votes and Proceedings of the House were printed. Hon. Members received every morning almost a volume of printed matter, much of which was, no doubt, important, but a great deal of it was practically the same thing printed over and over again. For instance, Her Majesty's Gracious Speech at the commencement of the Session was printed and sent to hon. Members no less than 20 times. He thought this was altogether unnecessary, and that wherever it was desirable to repeat the Queen's Speech, a note should be inserted stating where the Speech had first appeared. He was informed that whenever repeated documents, such as the Queen's Speech, were sent out, the cost of printing them was charged for afresh—that was to say, that in the case to which he referred the country had to pay 20 times over for the setting up of the Queen's Speech. If this were so, the expenditure was a most unreasonable one. He thought that a great saving might be effected if greater control over the production of certain Papers was conferred upon the Stationery Office. Many of the books published were very costly, containing very elaborate maps and plans, and no sort of check over the production of these was exercised by the Stationery Office. For example, he held in his hand a Blue Book called the "Glasgow Boundary Commission," and in this he found an enormous and elaborate plan of Glasgow, giving every street, and covering about 20 square feet. The cost of this plan must have been very great indeed. The Stationery Office had no power to revise the book and prevent the production of the plan. It seemed to him that instead of inserting a plan of this kind in every copy of the book, a reference might have been 605 inserted in the volume stating where the plan could be seen. A considerable reduction might be made in the Vote by the effective editing of such Papers as this, which were Papers printed by command of Her Majesty. There was another section of Papers—namely, those printed by command of the two Houses of Parliament, which caused still greater expenditure, there being no supervision over them by the Stationery Office. The books were printed practically as the Departments thought proper. Some of them were printed better than others. There was no system observed as to type; some were in larger type than others; and they were not even cut to the same size. No doubt there was a very large field for the reduction of the expenditure here, and the bringing about of this reduction should be entrusted to the Stationery Office. Foreign Office correspondence might be very greatly reduced by leaving out repetitions and unnecessary matters, which not only increased the expense, but also the trouble of reading the correspondence. Then the books published in connection with the House of Lords were printed in a costly way, the print running right across each page instead of being in double columns, as was the case with books published by the House of Commons. If the Commons' system were adopted by the Lords, a saving of at least 10 per cent might be effected. He believed that there was at the present time a Printing Committee, but that body never met and never exercised any control over the printing or the editing of the Books and Papers published through the Stationery Office. It had been suggested that this Committee should be made a Standing Committee, and that all Papers of any importance should go through the Committee exercising supervision over the editing, the type, and other costly items. With regard to the number of copies of Parliamentary Papers which were printed, he thought that there also a very large saving might be effected. Papers were issued in what were called the large number and short number. If every Member of Parliament received a copy, about 1,600 or 1,700 were printed; but if the short number was issued instead, only about 600 copies were printed, and he was informed that if all public documents were printed in the short number it would reduce the cost of printing by 606 some £8,000 a-year. He did not mean to say that there were not many publications which should be sent to every single Member, as there were some matters in which everybody was interested; but there could be no doubt whatever that the present system of circulating public documents and having them printed in the long form, instead of the short form, was a most unsatisfactory arrangement. As an instance, the Glasgow Boundary Report had been sent to every Member of both Houses, whereas the Science and Art Department Report dealing with technical education was not sent to anyone unless they asked for it. He agreed with the suggestion that a list of printed Papers should be sent round to Members, who should be requested to mark upon it such documents as they wished to have sent to them. There would always be copies of all Papers in the Library and in the Vote Office, so that Members could look at them before ordering them. The remarks he was making were by no means antagonistic to the Treasury Bench. He was sure the Treasury were anxious to see these expenses reduced, and though he had put down a Notice of Motion to reduce the Vote by £5,000, he did not propose to press the Amendment if he were successful in eliciting some satisfactory statement from the Government on this matter.
§ MR. PROVAND (Glasgow, Blackfriars, &c.)
wished to draw attention to the fact that those subjects were considered by a Committee in 1873–4, and that many economies were introduced after that time. He was not sure whether any Committee had considered the matter since.
§ MR. PROVAND
said, that many of the recommendations of the Committee of 1873–4 had been carried out, and it seemed to him that more of their recommendations which were not carried out at the time ought to be adopted now. The hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Jennings) last year drew attention to a great many points which he was sorry had not been attended to by the Government. The Secretary to the Treasury on that occasion had said that he would consider certain proposals made to him, but it seemed that the Government had 607 done nothing, and had no intention of moving in the matter. The Estimates this year seemed to be less than those of last year by some £10,000. He could not understand the reduction of that amount, for it seemed to him that, if the work of the office was arranged and settled on a sound basis, it should be done every year at approximately the same cost, and that the Estimates should only vary by the slight normal increase due to the annual increase of business. The estimates had varied from year to year, being on one occasion as much as £15,000 under-estimated, and the fact that the Government could not make any reasonably correct estimate of what they would require to expend for stationery in the year showed the necessity of some control being placed over that business to which it was not subjected at present. He had no desire to cast any reflection upon the Controller, or anyone in the Stationery Office. Parliament itself was to blame for the waste and extravagance, and until they made up their minds to do what they could to check it, it would go on increasing, notwithstanding anything the Controller might do or say. He should be thankful to see the suggestion for the more limited distribution of Reports, Papers, and Documents carried out; but the first thing to do, as it seemed to him, was to separate Reports from Evidence. He would undertake to say that not one Member out of 20 ever looked through the immense volumes of Evidence with which he was presented. No doubt a Member, at some future time, might desire to see the Evidence which had been taken on a certain subject; but if he did, he could always refer to it in the Library of the House. He (Mr. Provand) considered that Reports should be sent out as at present, but that Evidence should not be sent unless specially asked for, and it must be remembered that the Reports only occupied some 20th or 30th of the whole of a volume. He thought economy might also be effected in printing less than at present. He could not understand why something like 1,200 or 1,300 copies of the proceedings of the Glasgow Boundary Commission should be printed and distributed for nothing when there were probably not more than 12 or 13 Members who desired to have the book. 608 Anyone who desired to have a copy of it might have applied for a copy on receiving a Circular stating that it was in the Vote Office, and could be obtained on application, Another thing which had not been noticed by any previous speaker was this—the necessity for the effective editing of these Papers. Careful editing would prevent the introduction of repetitions; but he doubted whether they could go further than that. He trusted they would now receive from the Government some assurance that the Committee which was suggested last year would be appointed to undertake the control over all this business, and to prevent a very reckless expenditure each year.
§ SIR HERBERT MAXWELL (A LORD of the TREASURY) (Wigton)
said, he was glad that the subject which had been brought before the Committee had recommended itself to the attention of so many Members, because he thought it was one which should now be dealt with in a satisfactory and practical manner. It was one which had attracted the attention of the Government for some time, and with regard to which they considered some of the suggestions made by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) and hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway were worthy of the approval of the Committee. It rested with the Committee to deal with the matter. It was not a thing in which the Government, or any Department of the Government, could proceed without the approbation and concurrence of the House. In the first place, he should like to say that the result of the attention which had been paid to the matter in late years was already evident. The expenditure of the Stationery Office—the money asked for this year—was nearly £11,000 less than the sum asked for last year, £15,000 less than the amount asked for in 1886–7, and £16,000 less than the amount asked for in 1885–6. This, he thought, was owing in a great measure to the increasing control of the Stationery Department. The hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Provand) had referred to the Committee of 1873–4, but he (Sir Herbert Maxwell) would direct the hon. Member's attention to the Report of the Committee which sat in 1883. Amongst other paragraphs in that Report was this— 609We have shown that where the authority of the Stationery Office has been recognized money has been saved.So that it seemed to him that what they had to do was to secure the actual control of the Stationery Office in these matters. Then, with reference to the full and the short delivery of Papers, the difference between the two amounted to no loss than £8,000 a-year. Where they found most difficulty in controlling both the style of Papers and the matter when printed was in regard to those Papers which were ordered by this House or by the House of Lords. Papers printed by command of Her Majesty went direct to the Stationery Office, and were, in many cases, re-edited there and re-cast, precautions being taken to insure economy of printing, but no such precautions were taken in the case of Papers ordered to be printed by the House. Such Papers went direct from the Table of the House to the printers, and nobody saw them until they came back in proof. There was a Printing Committee of this House. There had been a Select Committee on printing for many years, but he believed it was a long time since that Committee had met, and it had certainly no practical control over printing. What happened was this—Papers were ordered to be printed, and it was entirely within the discretion of the Librarian of the House whether they were put upon the full or the short delivery, there being no control over their bulk or the style of the matter they contained. If it was the pleasure of the House that a Select Committee of Members prepared to devote their attention practically to this subject should be appointed, such a proposal was, no doubt, well worthy of consideration. They would act in some measure, no doubt, as an Editing Committee, calling the attention of Heads of Departments to what might be considered extraneous and redundant matter, and would be able to consult with them as to what matter should be struck out and should not be repeated over and over again. As to the price at which Blue Books were sold, no doubt, as the hon. Member for Northampton said, they might be circulated at a much smaller price, and that point also was well worthy of consideration. But the hon. Member had also suggested that there should be a free delivery of these books 610 to libraries and public institutions throughout the country.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Or that they should be circulated at a much lower cost than at present. I proposed that as an alternative.
§ SIR HERBERT MAXWELL
said, that the experience of the Government with regard to supplying public institutions with Papers was not altogether satisfactory. The Patent Office had supplied many institutions with Papers gratuitously, and in many instances the gift had not been appreciated. As to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Glasgow, whilst the hon. Member disclaimed all intention of unfavourably criticizing the control of the Department, he did say that the fact of the reduction of the Stationery Office Vote, for which the Government thought they might actually claim some credit, was a sign that the work was not well done. He would ask the hon. Member to consider this—that printing was, to a considerable extent, carried out by contract. For a large member of years that had been the case, but as the contracts fell in it was possible to reduce the amounts and to practise economy, and in this way great savings had been effected. In conclusion, he could only assure the Committee that the course which had been indicated was one which met with the approval of the Treasury, and which they would be happy to carry out.
§ MR. STANSFELD (Halifax)
said, he thought they had had a debate of unusual interest upon these matters. They were accustomed to hearing Estimates criticized and found fault with, but they were not always accustomed to find remedies suggested and methods of reducing an unnecessary or undue expenditure. But they had had those methods suggested to-day, and not only had they been suggested, but they had been suggested by hon. Gentlemen known as experts. These suggestions had been received by the Government in a manner which left nothing to be desired by the hon. Gentleman who had represented the Government on this occasion. He (Mr. Stansfeld) thought there could be none of them—certainly none of them who sat in the House as long as he had—who could fail not only to feel an interest in this subject, but a certain pricking of conscience with regard to it. The hon. Member for North 611 Islington (Mr. Barclay) had said that hon. Members received about 2 cwt. of printed matter in the course of each Session. Well, not only was it absolutely impossible for them to digest that quantity of printed matter, but they could not even read a tithe of it. The very sight of such bulk discouraged anyone from reading any portion of it. A young Member, no doubt, would begin by reading everything, but he soon got blocked up with Papers, and even before the end of his first Session decided upon making a clearance; and, as Session after Session passed by, he grew more ruthless in his clearance, finding it necessary to protect himself from being overwhelmed physically, as well as morally and mentally, by mountains of Papers. His (Mr. Stansfeld's) experience was that a Member of Parliament at the beginning of each Session discarded more and more Papers, but at the end of each Session found that he had not discarded enough, and had to make a great clearance; and then such Member said to himself—"There is a great deal of waste here, and there must be something wrong in the system which puts the public to the expense of producing all this printed matter." It appeared to him (Mr. Stansfeld) to be more and more demonstrated that they ought to attempt to make some selection of the Papers to be distributed. The hon. Gentleman representing the Government said very truly that the Treasury in this measure could not act alone, but that what they did must have the concurrence of the House. Well, he (Mr. Stansfeld) thought that the suggestion that a Committee should be appointed of experts or business men was a very useful one. Such a Committee should have some relations with the Controller, and should exercise supervision over the issue of costly documents. He could endorse the statement of the hon. Member opposite, that the Printing Committee did not act. He (Mr. Stansfeld) was a Member of that Committee; therefore, he might make this authoritative statement. Perhaps he ought to take some blame to himself in the matter; but he was not responsible for being placed on the Committee, and he took it as it came, or rather as it did not come, because, so far as his knowledge went, it was merely a formal Committee to be called together in case of difficulties 612 arising, which difficulties had never yet arisen. Instead of having such Committees as this, they ought to have one appointed consisting of men who would give their time to the supervision of the printing and the issue of public Papers. The hon. Member opposite (Sir Herbert Maxwell) had said that the savings which had been effected under this Vote had been effected through the exercise of the control of the Stationery Office. Well, he (Mr. Stansfeld) thought it advisable that the relations between the House, the Government, and the Controller should not be such as to diminish the sense of the responsibility of the Controller. He thought there should be a Committee of the House of Commons, simply giving assistance to the Controller. He did not see why the Committee should not go and visit the Controller, and discuss these matters in his own room in a business way. Let such a Committee go to the Controller and ask him how he thought they could reduce this extraordinary expenditure, and if they were satisfied with his suggestions let them adopt them, and they would be enabled to bring about the economies, and would get the credit of them. That would be a satisfactory mode of proceeding. He (Mr. Stansfeld) would not enter into what he might call the details of the question, as he had not that expert knowledge which would enable him to do so; but he would venture to make one remark upon the statement of the hon. Member for Northampton, who had opened the discussion on the subject to-day. The hon. Member, in the first place, had said that there was an excessive issue of Papers, and on that, presumably, they were all agreed. The question was, how were they to reduce that excessive issue so as to satisfy Members of the House? Then the hon. Member had said that Papers and documents were published, and sold at an excessive price. The hon. Member had proposed two alternatives—either that these Papers should be circulated amongst the public libraries, not at the price of setting up, but at the price of printing, and of the paper, or that there should be a considerable free distribution. He (Mr. Stansfeld), however, agreed in this matter with the view taken by the Representative of the Government, when he entirely protested, from his own experience, 613 against gratuitous distribution. He (Mr. Stansfeld), from his own experience, knew that gratuitous distribution of Parliamentary Papers and Blue Books never came to much good. The free distribution of Parliamentary Papers and Blue Books would certainly not be an economical proceeding, because everyone would expect the distribution, although very few would turn it to useful account, and it would entail large additional expenditure on the Government. He (Mr. Stansfeld) entirely approved of the other alternative, which met with the approval of the Representative of the Government, and that alternative he hoped to see adopted.
§ MR. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
wished to remind the Committee of what he had said last year when this matter was under discussion. He thought the Committee would be making a serious mistake unless it proceeded with great caution in this matter. Before any step was actually taken, he thought the whole question should be submitted to a Select Committee. He thought the Committee which was in existence ought to be superseded by a real Committee, which would decide as to what Papers should be circulated and what should not. With regard to the immense mass of Papers circulated each year, he supposed they had received no less than 2,000 separate Papers, containing about 64,000 pages of printed matter, last year, and that the number of pages issued this year would approximate to the same amount. A great deal of these Papers consisted of Reports of Committees and Commissions, and in many cases there were double issues, the Reports being first circulated and then repeated with the evidence. A great deal of money might be saved by evading this needless repetition. He would draw particular attention, however, to this—that the House of Commons was gradually losing hold over the printing, the control being centred in the Stationery Office, without there being in that Office anyone really capable of giving an intelligent opinion with regard to the matters with which the Department had to deal. In this Department, as in other Departments, there should be a capable practical man at the head of affairs before any great change took place in regard to the Office itself. They were gradually drifting 614 into a state of things far worse than that which prevailed at present. He did not know whether anyone had taken heed of what had occurred recently in connection with the Stationery Office. During the present Session a Committee had sat to consider such matters connected with this Office. The Report of that Committee had been circulated in the House, and that Report had left the question of the publication of the Debates of the House untouched as it were for the present. But since that Committee had reported, an advertisement had appeared in the public papers practically initiating the first step with regard to the publication of the Debates of Parliament without regard to the opinion of the House. With whose authority, he should like to ask, had this step been taken? Was the Stationery Office going to constitute itself a great printing establishment—a great editorial establishment, printing and editing the Debates of Parliament without the sanction and without the authority of Parliament? Had the Printing Committee sat and delegated that power to the Stationery Office? If not, who had authorized the Stationery Department to issue an advertisement of the kind to which he referred inviting tenders for the printing of the Debates of the House? He should like the Secretary to the Treasury to give the House some information with regard to the issue of this advertisement, and with respect to the tenders which had been sent in, and also as to the arrangement which was to be made for the future. It was perfectly well understood that the responsibility with regard to the publication of Acts of Parliament remained with the Crown. A Proclamation appeared to have been issued constituting the Stationery Office the agent of the Crown with regard to this matter, and he presumed that that was perfectly right and agreeable to the Forms of the House; but he remembered that last Session a kind of notice was issued to the Press restricting, or attempting to restrict, their right of reproducing Reports and Returns, and so on, issued by the House. Well, he wished to know to what extent the Stationery Office, having all the rights and privileges and prerogatives with regard to the printing establishment, would be able to come down on any newspaper or firm 615 for issuing Acts of Parliament when they were not issued as cheaply as they might be by the Stationery Office itself? He thought that before they went any further in this matter the whole question of the relationship of the Stationery Office to the House should be inquired into by a Committee, and on the Report of that Committee should be proposed some regulations with regard to these publications. He agreed that a great saving might be effected by putting a stop to unnecessary duplication of Parliamentary Papers. He felt, however, that no reduction could be properly made, and the printing establishment could not be properly conducted, until they had, in connection with the Office, a man of practical experience connected with the printing trade. With regard to the editorial work which had been referred to by several speakers, he desired to know: Would the Committee have to undertake the responsibility of omitting passages from evidence, or would they not? Would the Committee be able to cut out whole pages of evidence given before a Parliamentary Committee? If so, he did not know exactly where they would stand. If evidence were published at all, it should be published exactly as it was given.
§ SIR HERBERT MAXWELL
said, he made no proposal for curtailing evidence, but simply as to limiting the number of copies printed and the number of editions.
§ MR. HOWELL
said, that what he wanted to know was to what extent the Committee was to do editorial work—how far its supervision was to go? There was one point to which it could be carried to a much greater length than it was at present. What he meant was that there should be departmental supervision over some of those elaborate Returns which were issued year by year. Some Returns were practically reproduced in the same way year by year. It seemed to him that many thousands a year might be saved by the exercise of proper control over this part of the Stationery Office business. He felt, however, very strongly with regard to this matter that nothing practical could be done until they had someone at the Stationery Office thoroughly acquainted with the details of the business of printing and publishing.
§ MR. ADDISON
(Ashton-under-Lynn said, he merely wished to make one remark which he had been waiting for a long time to hear made by someone else, and which he was astonished none of the fervid economists on one side of the House or on the other had made—and he did not know upon which side the most enthusiastic economist was now to be found—as to how economy could be effectually secured under this Vote. The way to secure economy seemed to him to be plain and simple, and it was this—let every Member of Parliament who desired to have a Blue Book or any Parliamentary Paper beyond the ordinary Votes and Proceedings go to the Vote Office and buy it in the ordinary way. ["Oh, oh!"] Why not? The country would then see that hon. Members were sincerely anxious to bring about economy so far as the finances of the State were concerned. He had always noticed, with regard to matters of economy, that everyone was carried away with enthusiasm for it in the abstract, but that no one liked it when it was sought to effect it at its own expense. He (Mr. Addison) was confident that if the plan he suggested were adopted the publication of Blue Books would fall off enormously. People did not read Blue Books because they got them for nothing, and if hon. Members would only act on the simple commercial principles he advocated and buy what they wanted they would read what they bought, would very much improve their information, and would largely improve the cause of economy in this matter which they all professed to have so much at heart.
§ MR. A. H. DYKE ACLAND (York, W.R., Rotherham)
thought that somebody in the Stationery Office should supervise the editing of the Royal Commission Reports. Everyone who had studied the way these Reports were furnished would know that the Secretary to a Royal Commission prepared them just as he liked.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
Does the hon. Member refer to Reports or to Evidence?
§ MR. A. H. DYKE ACLAND
Both to Reports and Evidence. One or two practical suggestions might be drawn up in the Stationery Office, or a set of rules might be prepared which should be adhered 617 to by all Commissions. Many of the Reports were inadequate and had bad indices, and went forth to the public without proper headings to the pages and without proper references, and were simply masses of material piled together in a loose manner. They were often published directly after the Commission finished its work, and without time having been allowed for the preparation of a satisfactory index, and all this be considered to be due to the absence of an overlooking authority. None of the Secretaries appointed upon Royal Commissions could have experience in these matters, and he, therefore, thought that these Reports should be drawn up upon general rules. Hon. Members said they did not care to read a great deal of the evidence that was published in Blue Books, and no doubt that was the case; but they were all struck by abstracts of evidence when they were furnished in an able manner, but these were very often supplied months after the Sittings of Commissions. He would suggest that none of these volumes of evidence should be circulated without being accompanied by abstracts to enable Members to find at once in the evidence anything they wanted. It would not require a man to have any special knowledge of printing work to draw up such a set of rules as he proposed. There was a Report issued on the Sweating System which was published at 11s., and he thought that if this had been printed in the form in which many other Blue Books were printed it might have been circulated at the cost of 5s. or 6s. at the most. The book was twice as big as it need be, with the print sprawling along the paper, as was the case with all Blue Books published by the House of Lords. This was a matter of great interest to working men, and hon. Members would see the necessity of keeping down the price of publications of this kind as much as possible. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) said he did not approve of gratuitous publications, but in the United States they did, and with very good results. In the United States they knew that a great deal of the matter they circulated would not be required; but they said—"In a great democratic country like this, every citizen who wants information should 618 have easy access to it." If in this country we took the pains to make our public papers as small, as simple, as attractive, and as cheap as they did in the United States, a great deal of good would be done. Be was confident it would be most advantageous to the State and to the community at large if steps were taken to spread our public Papers more widely, whether gratuitously or not; and any expenditure incurred in this way in educating the masses of the people would be an expenditure for which the State would be repaid in the long run. Whatever they did in that respect, at any rate, let them make those publications which they did make turn out decent and respectable.
§ MR. J. M. MACLEAN (Oldham)
said, he was old-fashioned enough to wish to say a word or two in defence of the present system of circulating all manner of Blue Books amongst Members of Parliament. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stansfeld) bad described accurately the experience of most hon. Members with regard to the Blue Books. There was an immense mass of rubbish amongst the Blue Books; but still it was often beneath a mass of rubbish that they found a treasure. No doubt most of them put aside a great many of those Books, and never even thought of opening them. But, at the same time, they made their own selection of the Books they wanted to read; and if they did not read them during the Session, perhaps they might enjoy the opportunity of doing so during the Recess. In taking that course, they exercised their right of private judgment. Apparently, it was proposed that every Member of the House was to surrender his right of private judgment to a Select Committee.
§ SIR HERBERT MAXWELL
said, that that was not proposed. The proposal was to substitute for the present system of automatic delivery a system under which Members should, by marking a printed list, show what Papers they would like to be sent to them.
§ MR. J. M. MACLEAN
said, he maintained that a Member could not tell beforehand exactly what Papers he wished to read. It was only after the Papers were circulated and looked into that one could discover whether they 619 were worth reading or not. Who was to make the selection? Every Member of Parliament ought to make the selection for himself. The fullest information ought to be laid before Members as to the proceedings of Committees and Royal Commissions. There should be no editing beyond seeing that the matter contained in the Blue Books was arranged on the best and simplest plan. The hon. Member (Mr. A. H. D. Acland) made some excellent suggestions about a better plan of arranging the contents of the Blue Books. It would be a very useful thing indeed if Royal Commissions or Committees were charged with the making of an abstract in their Report of the evidence upon which they reported. There was a very good example of the value of this in the Blue Book published yesterday by the Royal Commission on Currency. But he rose principally for the purpose of protesting against any measure that might limit the circulation of these Books. He was in favour of having them circulated as widely as possible through the country, because the larger the circulation of such publications, the better it would be for the enlightenment of the country.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oldham (Mr. J. M. Maclean) proposed that the country should expend £8,000 per annum in order that a vast amount of rubbish should be sent to him in the hope that he might extract some jewels from it. The hon. Gentleman did not appear to understand what was proposed. It was suggested that a list should be sent to the hon. Gentleman and other Members of the Papers that were open to them to obtain, and that they should mark on the list those they required. The hon. Gentleman asked who was to make the selection. The hon. Gentleman himself was to make the selection.
§ MR. J. M. MACLEAN
said, what he stated was that it was impossible for a Member of Parliament to know what Blue Books he would like to read until the Books had been circulated and he had looked into them.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
understood the hon. Gentleman was to read a Blue Book in order to find out whether he cared to read it. [Mr. J. M. MACLEAN: Look into it.] Well, to look into it. The Blue Books and Papers would be 620 in the Library of the House, and the hon. Gentleman could look into them there, and then mark the list showing which of them he required to be sent to him. At the present moment there was a Select Committee which did nothing; it was proposed they should have a Select Committee which should do something. He did not object to that, provided he was not a Member of the Committee. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green (Mr. Howell) proposed that nothing should be done until a Committee looked into the whole question of stationery. He (Mr. Labouchere) objected to that. A good deal might be done at present. To tell the truth, he did not see the good of a Committee, nor did he perceive what a Committee would do. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. M. Maclean) seemed to think there was no practical man at the head of the Stationery Office. He (Mr. Labouchere) had met Mr. Pigott, the head of the Stationery Office, and he had found him a very practical and sensible man. Mr. Pigott had unquestionably made a considerable number of economies, and if he had a Committee to work with him he might effect all the economy necessary without waiting to have a general Committee of the House of Commons to decide the whole question of the Stationery Office, which he was bound to say was fairly well managed at the present time. With respect to the price of Papers, he quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) that it would be infinitely better that the cost price should be charged instead of there being a free distribution. He did not gather from the Government whether they consented to that plan or not. The paper he held in his hand—the Civil Service Estimates—was marked 1s. 4d., and it was said to be under 12 ozs. in weight. Taking paper at 3d. a-pound, the paper would not be worth 3d. Taking the machinery and the ink at 1d., 4d. would amply repay the Government for a copy of the Civil Service Estimates; 1s. was clear profit. He suggested that the price should be reduced to 4d. It would be found that many free libraries were ready to pay the actual cost of these publications. Again, the Papers of the Patent Offices in America and other countries were very fully appreciated, and there was 621 great complaint on the part of a number of free libraries that the exchange of Papers between our Patent Office and the Patent Offices of America and other countries was not conducted on fair terms towards us—that we did not get enough from the Americans for what we gave. But, be that as it might, proper arrangements might be made for supplying the American Papers to the free libraries in the great commercial towns. He hoped that not only would there be an immediate reduction in the vast number of Papers issued, but that there would also be some reduction in the price at which they were obtainable by the public.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
said, he was inclined to agree with a great deal that had fallen from the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. J. M. Maclean). There was no doubt a great deal of waste in connection with these Papers. What hon. Members desired was that they should have some control over their own printing, and that they should not be at the mercy of a Department. Whenever any question arose on this subject, a Minister got up and said that he was not responsible for the printer, and when asked who was, the reply was that he did not know. Why should the Librarian not be in communication with the Committee? He understood that the Government proposed to have a Special Committee appointed in connection with this matter, but he hoped that the work of the Committee would not be limited to the question as to what publications should be circulated, because they wanted the Committee to look into the whole matter of the printing of the House, to see whether some arrangement could not be made by which the House could have effective control over its printing.
§ MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W.R., Holmfirth)
said, that the Report of the Commission on Education was very bulky; there were three large books containing evidence in the shape of 59,000 questions and answers, three volumes of Returns and Statistics, and one volume of the Report proper. In addition to this enormous mass of information which had been issued to hon. Members, there was an index and a digest which they had not received, and which they could only obtain on application, This digest, he need hardly say, 622 would be very valuable to those who had not time to go into the seven volumes mentioned, while the index was important to those who desired to study the whole case with care. He could not understand why they had not been issued.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds N.)
said, he hoped he might appeal to hon. Members to bring this discussion to a close. He thought every Member of the Committee must have come to the conclusion that the discussion, as stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld), had been most useful and interesting; certainly it was the most interesting which had taken place on the Estimates, if he might venture to say so, for some time, and he was very glad that the Committee had taken the course which it had done that day. He thought he was justified in drawing the conclusion that the Committee was of opinion in the first place that a very considerable saving might be effected in regard to the publications circulated without any serious disturbance of the interests of Business, and he would certainly endeavour to put the matter into some practical shape to meet what he believed to be the general feeling of the Committee. The hon. Member for Wigton (Sir Herbert Maxwell) had taken a great interest in this question, and had most thoroughly and fully considered it. He (Mr. Jackson) had no hesitation in saying that, with a little assistance from the Committee, it might be possible to save £10,000 or £15,000 a-year in the Stationery Office. The hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. A. H. Dyke Acland) had made a valuable suggestion and some criticisms, to which he (Mr. Jackson) would reply, that the Stationery Office should not be charged with responsibility in this matter, because the duty of the Office was simply to carry out the instructions of the Royal Commission, which was independent even of the Treasury. He believed that the Committee would see that, if a Royal Commission was appointed, it must rest with the Chairman and the Members of the Commission to decide in what way they would present the evidence on which they founded their Report. He thought, however, the hon. Gentleman had made a valuable suggestion, if it were practicable. He entirely agreed with what he had said as to the 623 value of the index and digest of these Reports of Royal Commissions and Committees of Inquiry. It had hitherto been the practice to make arrangements with the secretary by whom or under whose supervision they were prepared; and he was not sure that it would be practicable for the Stationery Office to discharge these duties for all the various Royal Commissions sitting in different places and dealing with different questions. His own impression was that, to do the work in a useful and complete manner, it must be done by someone who had been present during the proceedings and watched them very carefully; but he would certainly make inquiry about the matter, because the proposal of the hon. Member would meet a distinct want in this respect—that the Reports were issued without index or analysis, which rendered them less useful than they would otherwise be; and, further, it would be a great improvement, in his opinion, if they could get some uniform system upon which this work could be done. He would make inquiry with a view to seeing if it were possible to give effect to the suggestion of the hon. Member.
§ MR. A. H. DYKE ACLAND
said, he would suggest that perhaps it would be possible to draw up a set of simple Rules for the guidance of Secretaries of Royal Commissions and Committees of Inquiry in preparing these indices and digests.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, this might be possible, and he would give the suggestion his careful consideration. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) had referred to the question of the price charged for these Papers. When the charge was first made, now a long time ago, the principle was that the charge would cover the cost of printing, &c. At that time the cost of producing Parliamentary Papers was much higher than at present. In the first place, there had been a reduction in the price of printing contracts, and also in the price of paper; and, therefore, he thought, as the hon. Member had said, that the time had now arrived when, under the circumstances, some change might be made in the price of the Papers issued. That point should receive consideration. He believed he had met most of the points raised by hon. Members, and that the discussion which had taken place would be most 624 useful to the Government; and, as far as he was concerned, he should be glad to give effect to the suggestions made at the earliest possible moment.
§ DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
said, that an immediate saving might be effected, perhaps larger than the hon. Member for Northampton contemplated, without introducing any new system whatever, by the simple expedient of using smaller type in printing Parliamentary Papers. There was no necessity for printing evidence, which was only partially referred to, in larger type than was considered necessary, for instance, in the printing of The Times newspaper. There was a great danger of concealing facts from the knowledge of Parliament by too great an economy in printing, as had been shown by the Committee over which the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) so ably presided, in connection with the Army Estimates. It appeared that a grant of £25,000 or £30,000 was made to an inventor, for warlike purposes, and the charge had been met out of the savings on a previous Estimate. This required a Treasury Minute, which occupied four lines; it was laid upon the Table of the House, and then went into the Library of the House, but when the matter came to be inquired into, it was found that this Treasury Minute had never been printed. The consequence was that the Treasury Minute was entirely concealed from the knowledge of all the Members of the House, except those who might have noticed that it had been laid on the Table, and who hunted it up in the Library. Hon. Members would observe that there was a great deficiency of details given in the Estimate; they would find on the Paper sub-heads, the details given in which did not cover more than £50,000 of the £500,000 embraced in the Estimate. If they were to have effective criticism of this Department, there must be the same detail shown as in other cases, and he would like to know why such detail was not given? There were some figures given relating to 1884–5, 1885–6, and 1886–7; but, with regard to the year 1888–9, no figures were given. He would now refer to the management of The London Gazette. He had asked the Chairman of Committees— 625 who then held the position of Secretary to the Treasury—why it was that advertisements in The Gazette must be inserted through an agent in London, and that payment for them was not taken in money, but in Gazette stamps; and he had inquired whether the effect was not to add a guinea, in the shape of his solicitor's fee, to the cost of publishing statutory advertisements, and whether such advertisements could not be received at the office of The Gazette in the ordinary business way. The hon. Gentleman had replied with very great dexterity, but in a way which, since he had been liberated from the trammels of Office, he believed would not have satisfied himself and which, certainly had not satisfied him (Dr. Cameron). The answer of the hon. Gentleman was that the regulation was not a new one, which of course had nothing to do with the question; he said that a solicitor was not necessary, and that the ordinary advertising agent's fee would be less, and that with regard to the comparison with The Edinburgh Gazette, in connection with which this practice did not exist, the hon. Gentleman said the latter was so small that it was not to be compared with The London Gazette. The answer supplied by the Treasury was eminently unsatisfactory. He observed that the amount of stamps was about £19,000 a-year, and he asked why this obligation should be laid upon the public, which did not exist in Scotland in the case of The Edinburgh Gazette. It was not an economical arrangement., and he was certain that the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury, who appeared to have his mind in such an open condition for the reception of reforms, would see that it was in the interest of the Government to make these business transactions as easy as possible for the public. There were no complaints whatever with regard to The Edinburgh Gazette, whereas he had received many with reference to the impediments thrown in the way of publicity in The London Gazette. It was quite right that prepayment should be made, though persons should be allowed to make it as they chose, either in money or in stamps, but to keep up the system of The London Gazette stamps simply to prevent money being taken was an antiquated practice, and ought to be abolished.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, that there were a great many Departments to be provided for, and if a separate Estimate were made for each they must provide a maximum which would be likely to meet the requirement in each case, the consequence of which would be that a margin would have to be taken in each case, and this would lead to an enormous increase of the Estimate. He thought, therefore, the hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) would see that, so far as details were concerned, the Treasury had gone as far as they could conveniently go. With regard to The London Gazette, the hon. Gentleman had asked why it was that money was not allowed to be taken and the payment must be made in stamps. He (Mr. Jackson) had been under the impression that in recent years the opinion of the House of Commons and the tendency in all Departments had been distinctly in the direction of substituting stamps for money. That practice had certainly led to the removal of many difficulties which had formerly existed. But he might be allowed to say that there was a great difference between The London Gazette and The Gazettes of Edinburgh and Dublin. In Edinburgh and Dublin the printing and publication of The Gazette was let by contract. The printer and publisher in Dublin received the small sum of about £100 for clerical assistance in revising and looking through advertisements, and at the end of the year he accounted for the money received. In Edinburgh The Gazette was printed in a similar way by contract, and an allowance was made to the printer and publisher, he believed, of £200 a-year for clerical assistance. In London the arrangement had been that the printer paid so much a-year for the sole right of selling The Gazette, and, of course, he received a profit on the sale. There had been a gentleman for many years connected with The Gazette at a salary of £800, and this gentleman, he was informed, was about to retire, in which case the Government had decided not to fill up the vacancy. He had suggested to his Chiefs that they should take this opportunity of looking into the question whether the present arrangement was the best for carrying out the work, and the question which the hon. Member for Glasgow had raised would be one of 627 those to be inquired into. He, therefore, hoped that the hon. Gentleman would be satisfied with this explanation.
§ DR. CAMERON
said, that the answer to the hon. Gentleman was satisfactory so far as it went, except on the point of stamps. It was all very well to require stamps instead of money when stamps could be obtained anywhere; but The London Gazette stamps could not be obtained so easily, and he thought that Postal Orders, which could be got at any post office, ought to be received. His complaint was that country advertisers had to get an agent in London to go down to the office and buy Gazette stamps, simply that this absurd routine, which did not prevail anywhere else, should be maintained.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, he quite agreed that facilities should be given for obtaining these stamps. Of course, special stamps were in use in order to see the exact amount received; but it would no doubt be possible to obtain that result by keeping an account of other stamps which might be used.
§ MR. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
asked, on what authority the recommendation had been made that tenders should be invited for the reporting, printing, and publication of the Parliamentary Debates? It was not recommended, he thought, in the Report of the Committee which investigated the subject this Session. He wanted to know whether there was any authority for this, and whether it involved the undertaking by the Stationery Office of the production of the Report of the Debates in that House in the same way as in America?
§ MR. JACKSON
said, he had already answered the question of the hon. Member to some extent. The hon. Member seemed to think that it was not recommended by the Committee that tenders should be invited. The position was this: Notice had been given to Mr. Hansard expiring at the end of this Session, and therefore arrangements would have to be made to provide for the reporting and printing of the Debates and Parliamentary Proceedings before the commencement of next Session. They had run it as closely, perhaps, as they were justified in running it; but the Treasury was charged with the responsibility of making that provision and following the recommendations of 628 the Committee. He thought he was justified in saying that the Committee did recommend the invitation to tenders, because they approved the form of tender adopted. Tenders had been called for; no decision had been come to, and the Committee would therefore excuse him if he reserved further remarks on the subject until the question had been decided.
§ MR. HOWELL
said, he objected to the Stationery Department undertaking the publication of the Reports and Debates in the way proposed, which might have the effect of depriving the House of control over its own Reports.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, the hon. Member was under an entire misapprehension. The publication would in future, as hitherto, be carried on by a contractor, and it was specified that the work was to be done on similar conditions and in like manner as heretofore.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, as he understood that the question of Hansard would form the subject of future discussion, he should say nothing on the subject. He pointed out that the proceeds of the sale of waste paper was stated in the Estimate at £10,000, and he wished to draw attention to the statement in the Report of the Controller that this sale would be more remunerative "if the Papers were not torn." He did not see that the dealers would be likely to divulge any secrets there might be in the Papers, and the precaution being, therefore, useless, he hoped the hon. Gentleman would see his way to dispense with the practice.
§ MR. HENNIKER HEATON (Canterbury)
said, that an enormous quantity of waste paper referred to in the Estimate came from the Post Office. He complained that the large sum resulting was not sent to the Post Office, as it should be. A large quantity of Papers were sent from the Post Office every week to the Stationery Office, which were there destroyed, and the proceeds credited to the Stationery Office. He maintained that this was unjust to the Post Office, and should be discontinued. He would be glad to know whether tenders for the waste paper were called for, and, if so, the name of the contractor?
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
said, he wished to call attention to items on 629 page 166, of which the most meagre information was given. There was a charge for the Treasury, including Parliamentary Counsel and Solicitor, for Printing, £1,673, and for paper £1,294. In this case the cost of printing exceeded that of paper; but in the next item, which included The Police Gazette, the printing was charged as £546, and the paper as £1,504; and it would be seen that in one case the paper cost one-third of the printing, and in the other that the printing cost one-third of the paper. He would like to know how those differences were accounted for? Again, he did not find any account of the cost of printing the Customs Bills of Entry. [Mr. JACKSON: The work is done by contract under the Stationery Office.] Up to two years ago the work was published by some Customs officials as a private venture, and their profit at the time it was taken over by the Government was £10,000 a-year. But no account of the paper had been laid on the Table of the House, and hon. Members had been unable to ascertain what the profits of the Government were with respect to it. It seemed to him that the profit made must be now considerably larger, owing to the increase of trade; and he thought there ought to be something more than a mere reference to the publication in the Estimate. There was an item of £11,000 in the Extra Receipts, but they were not told whether these were gross receipts, and, as he had said, the account of profit had never been presented to Parliament since the paper had been taken over by Government.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, he thought it must be obvious to the Committee that a proportion could not possibly be established between the cost of paper and printing which would apply to each Department. In the first place, he pointed out that one of the columns referred to included, besides paper, other stationery materials of various kinds. With regard to the want of uniformity to which the hon. and learned Member referred, he might refer to The Patent Office Journal, where there was a large difference between the charge for paper and printing. This was due to the fact that the journal was illustrated, which, of course, added greatly to the cost. In these matters the Stationery Department was responsible, and within the instructions supplied to the Department they 630 worked as cheaply as possible, the work being paid for only according to the scheduled prices. With regard to the Customs Bills of Entry, the amount credited was the amount actually paid into the Exchequer, and obviously represented the total receipts; but the profit which the hon. and learned Gentleman referred to as being £10,000 two years ago was certainly not so much now.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, he had asked what was the amount of profit, and where that profit was shown? These were two perfectly distinct questions.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, he thought he had made it clear to the hon. and learned Gentleman that the total receipts were £11,000, and that this amount had been paid into the Exchequer. Under Sub-head B the printing and paper for the Customs Bills of Entry was entered as £4,000.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, the hon. Gentleman was not particularly acquainted with this matter, and he would not, therefore, press him upon it further. Plainly, the profit he referred to was not the profit on the paper, and he would ask the hon. Gentleman to look into the matter, because when the paper was taken over by the Government the profit was £10,000 a-year. No account was given of this, which he said ought to appear in the Stationery Estimate. The profit ought to be larger now than in 1884, when it was seized by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The question was, what did it amount to now, and where did it go to?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he had to refer to the large items in the Vote for Printing and Paper for Public Departments—namely, "Printing £179,000, and Paper for ditto £120,000." Taking the price of the paper at 2d. a lb., over 7,000,000 lbs. of it must be used by the Public Departments, mainly in corresponding with one another. The Committee would observe how enormous was this amount of paper, and he thought the Treasury ought to exercise some control over the quantity supplied. He had been brought up in a Public Department, and knew there was a perfect mania in them for using paper—they would use four sheets if it were only to write a couple of words. He did not quite understand whether the paper was used in the offices, and whether the printing was for public documents. The 631 charge, however, for the latter was enormous, and that for the paper preposterous, when the present price of the article was considered. He would like to know what price was paid for the paper? Everyone knew that it was exceedingly good, and that when one wrote to a Public Department the reply was upon paper as thick as parchment. He admitted that there was a very slight reduction this year, and hoped the hon. Gentleman, whom he would do the justice of saying that, politics apart, he was by no means a bad Secretary to the Treasury, would bring pressure to bear on the Public Departments, in order that the item for paper might in future be very considerably reduced.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, the hon. Member had, he thought, fallen into an error, because he so much emphasized the cost of printing for Public Offices. But the two items did not hang together. In the charge for paper was included writing paper, paper of which books were made and paper for binding, as well as for the various accounts; and it was the total estimated sums for all the Public Departments. He believed that the average price of the writing paper was 7d. a lb.; some kinds of it, of course, being better than others. On the whole, he thought they had gone as far in the direction of cheapening the cost as they could, and trusted the hon. Gentleman would pardon him for finding himself unable to promise to make a further change at present.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he had seen the book from which the hon. Gentleman had read in the hands of many Secretaries to the Treasury, who were always ready to accept it. He was not prepared to do that because he had found that it contained errors. He asked whether the paper was that used for writing purposes, or whether the item included that used for binding. The hon. Gentleman said it must be used for printing also, because there was an item for binding; but he would point out that in Public Offices they bound up the despatches. If the hon. Gentleman would turn to Sub-head J he would see that a charge for "Printing paper and binding for the Houses of Parliament"—that was to say, for the printing and binding of the documents submitted to them, and it was therefore 632 impossible that this charge could include paper both for printing and writing. The hon. Gentleman was startled at the amount, and said it included all the Papers submitted to the Houses of Parliament. But it did not do so, and therefore there was full reason why the hon. Gentleman should compel the Public Departments to carry out economy in this matter, because he had himself been obliged to throw in an item of £40,000 which had nothing to do with the item in question.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, that Sub-head J was limited to items which had nothing whatever to do with the Public Departments in the sense in which he had used the term; but he would point out that Sub-head I. distinctly stated that it was for paper for the Public Departments. He had said that this included all the paper for all the Public Departments, including paper for books, and to that statement he adhered.
§ It being half-an-hour after Five of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee also report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at twenty-five minutes before Six o'clock.