§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that, unless the reply to a Question in this House is published in the Press, it is almost impossible for an honourable Member to obtain a copy until many days after the reply has been given, and that applications to the official reporter for a copy receive no attention; and whether he can take any steps to secure that Members should receive an early copy of the reply to their Questions?
§ MR. HANBURY
The contractor for the "Debates" is required by the terms of his contract to furnish Ministers with proofs of their replies to Questions on the third day after delivery. He has undertaken to furnish these proofs also to the Members by whom the Questions have been put. The supply of proofs during the present Session has not been as regular as it ought to have been. I have made representations to the contractor on the subject, and I hope to be able to secure a punctual fulfilment of the conditions of the contract.
§ MR. BARTLEY
Could not a copy of the answers be put in the Library, so that Members interested can see them? Would not that meet the difficulty?
§ MR. PIRIE
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, with reference to the inconvenience to Members of this House arising from the difficulties connected with supplying Members with copies of answers given by Ministers to Questions, to which attention has recently been drawn, it would be possible to arrange that the copies of what is at present sent up for the use of the Press by Ministers might be made available for Members by being duplicated and placed for the day in one of the lobbies of the House or in a room set apart for that purpose, thus obviating the necessity of Members, if they wish to see an answer given to a Question on the same afternoon, being obliged either to trouble the Secretary to the Minister or send to the Press Gallery?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
In answer to the honourable Member's Question I have to say that I am afraid, there are difficulties in the way which will prevent an extension of the facilities already given. If I may make a suggestion, may I say there are certain classes of departmental Questions which might be more conveniently dealt with by honourable Gentlemen writing to the Department concerned, and this, I think, would save their time, the time of the Minister, the time of the Department, and the time of the House. Of course, I only make the suggestion; it is for honourable Gentlemen to carry it out if they think fit.
MR. CAEVELL WILLIAMS (Notts, Mansfield)
Will the right honourable Gentleman be pleased to answer the Question put to him?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I said I am afraid the privileges already given cannot be extended.