HC Deb 20 June 1892 vol 5 cc1577-9
(4.54.) MR. MORTON (Peterborough)

The right hon. Gentleman said just now something about the House of Lords requiring time to consider the Bills sent up to it from this House. That may be so, but it should be remembered that he asked this House to go through Supply without proper consideration in order that the Dissolution might take place this week. I now want to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question as to the appointment of the Committee with reference to the Reports of the Parliamentary Debates. Early in this Session as a matter of urgency, on the Vote on Account, I brought before this House the question of the contract for the reporting of the Parliamentary Debates, and we were then promised that a Committee should be appointed to consider it as soon as possible. I do not know why that Committee was not appointed till just before the Whitsuntide Recess, or why the Committee itself was not called together till the 10th of this month. When I called attention to the question I referred to the conditions of the present contract, and I then said that a month's notice was required to put an end to it previous to the end of the Session. What I want to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to is this—that by putting off the appointment of the Committee and the meeting of the Committee, he has practically prevented anything being done this Session. The Committee were not called together until it was too late to give the notice required to terminate the contract, if it was so desired. I want to know why he put off the appointment of the Committee and the calling together the Committee until it was too late to do anything—thus making a farce of the whole business? I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman knows anything about the matter or not; but at any rate he is responsible for what has happened. As the matter now stands we have been done out of the opportunity of considering it and of being in a position to terminate the contract if the House or the Government thought fit to do it. All sorts of rumours are about of friends of the Government being connected with the contract, and that therefore they are not willing to do anything to upset it. What value there is in these remarks I do not know—they are only rumours; but I should be inclined to think there is something in them. As a matter of fact, some validity has been given to these rumours by the manner in which the Government have treated this matter. Everyone knows who has looked into the matter that there is a general opinion with regard to the present system. I do not wish to say one word against the present contractors for the reporting, because for the price at which the work is being done it is impossible for Parliament to have the work done properly. There is, however, an opinion prevalent that some alteration should be made. Some of us think, as I think myself, that the money now being spent upon it—£2,000 or whatever it is—will be absolutely wasted, because the Times weekly reports are quite as good as Reuter's reports. I have nothing more to say on the subject, but I must ask the right hon. Gentleman for some explanation why the Committee was not called together until it was too late, under the terms of the contract, to do anything.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the third time, and passed.