§ 1. £5 (Supplementary), Stationery and Printing.
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETRAY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. HOBHOUSE,) Bristol, E.
This Supplementary Vote has been put down for the purpose of enabling the Committee to come to some decision upon the Report of a Committee which, under the chairmanship of the hon. Member for the Stroud Division of Gloucester, reported last year to the House. The precedent which may be taken in support of the Motion this afternoon will be found in a Vote which was put down in 1900 to enable the House to discuss the subject of hospitals in South Africa, and the precedent then set we shall follow this afternoon. The reporting of the debates in the House of Commons has formed the subject of inquiry by various Select Committees and Joint Committees of Lords and Commons for a great number of years past. In 1878 a Select Committee decided against any official reporting of the debates in this House. In 1888 a Joint Committee reported that the debates were reported inadequately and at great cost, and recommended that the form and time of publication of reports should be carried out in accordance with the wishes of Parliament from time to time expressed. In 1892 a Select Committee of this House recommended 1357 that there should be what is technically known as a "full" report of all speeches alike, to be delivered at 4 p.m. on the afternoon of the day following that upon which the debate took place, and that proofs of the speeches as recorded should not be sent to Members for correction. To come down to the last inquiry held on this subject, last year, if I may sum up very briefly the Report of the Committee, it was to the effect that the House of Commons should hare a reporting staff of its own, under the control of a Sessional Committee, who should be in consultation with the Speaker and the authorities of the House, and should work in conjunction with the Stationery Office. They also recommended that a full report of all speeches should be given and should be delivered to Members on the following morning, and that with this report should be incorporated the Votes and Proceedings of the House. As regards printing, the Committee recommended that there should be either a Government printing office, or, failing that, a contract system under the management of the Stationery Office. As matters stand at present, the arrangements are more or less briefly these. The present contractors have had the contract for reporting debates in this House for something like nine and a half years, but it has been found necessary to modify the contract from time to time, and last year the contract was modified, as I shall show in a moment, to a very considerable extent. The contract established five years ago ran out in June, 1907. It was provisionally extended until June of this year, and from that time, from June, 1908, it is liable to be terminated by six months' notice on either side. Reports of occupants of either Front Bench, Ministers or ex-Ministers, are as a rule in full, using the word "full" in a technical sense. The speeches of private Members of the House are reported at not less than one-third of the total substance of what they say, but very often, of course, as hon. Members are aware, at much greater length than that. Perhaps I might just express to the House what is the meaning of the word "full," used in its technical sense. It means a verbatim report, trimmed of all those excrescences and redundancies with which Members are perhaps in the habit of filling up the matter of their speeches. In fact, a "full" report puts 1358 into something like literary shape the efforts with which we endeavour to express our thoughts. What is called the full report of Ministers and ex-Ministers, coupled with the obligatory one-third report of private Members, was fully sufficient so long as the newspapers and journals were in the habit of reporting the debates in the House at considerable length. What was interesting to one provincial or local paper was uninteresting to another, but Members representing the neighbourhood in which that journal or newspaper circulated were naturally reported at considerable length in it, and there was an opportunity and the means of all Members of the House practically getting a full report. But times have changed a great deal in that respect. There has come into existence what is called the "sketch" report, which has taken the place of the full report that used to occupy a very prominent place in all the morning papers, and that has forced upon this House, if I may venture to say so, a change which will be more in consonance with the methods of reporting adopted, not by the official reporters of this House, but by the majority of the papers represented in the Press Gallery upstairs. A change is desired also from another point of view. There can be no doubt whatever in the mind of anybody who reads the evidence before the Committee that the reporting of the debates of this House has been conducted under conditions which entailed the greatest hardships on the persons who do the work. The hours are excessive, the conditions under which the work is done oppressive, and it is only a matter of common justice to gentlemen who do their work under great difficulties that we should bring our methods of reporting up to date. There are other aspects of this case which are not altogether satisfactory. Anybody who has troubled to read the official report of the Prime Minister's Budget speech and compared it with that of The Times will have noticed an identity of omissions and commissions which cannot be explained as being altogether accidental. It leads one to suppose, and indeed I think it is admitted by the official reporters, that much use has been made of The Times reports for the official reports. That cannot be a satisfactory method to Members of this 1359 House. The Government have decided to recommend to the House the following proposals, but they do so on the clear understanding that, while the House shall be quite free to accept or reject them, if they reject them, which I hope will not be the case, because we think the proposals are reasonable, then we must continue the present arrangement which I must describe as unsatisfactory. The proposals the Government make to the House are these: that there shall be a staff of reporters, ten in number, who shall be servants of the House, and engaged at an ample remuneration. Then to control that staff of reporters there shall be a chief of staff. A full report of all speeches both of Members, experts, and private Members alike, shall be delivered to Members at 4 o'clock in the afternoon following the day on which the debate takes place, but the power of correction of their speeehes which Members now enjoy will be limited to some extent. The printing will continue to be done as at present by contractors under contracts made by the Stationery Office, and the full reports will be delivered at or about 4 o'clock. That report is to be confined to the debates in the House itself—
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
It includes Committees in this Chamber but not Committees upstairs. In order to carry out this arrangement satisfactorily, Mr. Speaker, aided by the authorities of the House and working through the special Sessional Committee to which I made reference a short time, ago, will take charge of the arrangements and work them in connection with the Stationery Office. The cost of such an arrangement will be as nearly as can be estimated about £11,000 or £12,000. That is about the cost of the present arrangement.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
For a full report the cost will be no more than the cost under the old arrangement for the present report. At the present moment Mr. Speaker, as is well known, controls the Press Gallery upstairs and the printing 1360 of the Journals and the Votes and Proceedings of this House. It is therefore very proper, and following the traditional practice, that we should extend that control under these arrangements to the debates of this House. With regard to the Sessional Committee of which I have made mention, it will be an extension of the Select Committee on Official Publications, which sat, I think, in 1906. The Sessional Committee will have very important duties to perform. It will have to bear the brunt of the limitation of that power of correction to which I referred a moment or two ago. There is very strong evidence in the Report that there is a very great cost attached to these corrections by Members of the reports of their speeches. It extends to as much as 33 per cent. of the cost of composition, and it has on one occasion, I believe, gone up to 75 per cent. That is clearly a very undesirable practice, and the power of correction ought to be limited in future to matters of substance. Before a Member is allowed to correct he ought to ho able to go to the Sessional Committee and say, "They have put down things or figures which I have not said." There should be power to correct matters of substance only, and this process, of what witnesses before the Committee call stringing together, should not be allowed.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
The Stationery Office at the present moment prints the Votes and Proceedings, and, I think, the Journals. It makes a contract, under the supervision of the Treasury, with the present contractors as a suitable medium by which the contract may be carried out in future. On the whole question of printing I propose to say a word later on. With regard to the staff of reporters, it is not only clear that there is great over work under ordinary circumstances, but it amounts to a piece of inhumanity in times of pressure and all-night sittings. I believe there was one all-night sitting of twenty-seven hours mentioned in the minutes of evidence, and the same staff of reporters had to go all through that night relieving each other without outside aid. No Member could justify to himself the employment of men under that great strain. There is some 1361 difference of opinion in the evidence given before the Committee as to the number of reporters that it is desirable to employ. The present number is six, with a gentleman called the chief of staff who controls them. There is an equivalent number in the House of Lords, who are brought in to fulfil their duties when required.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
I am willing to accept the correction of the hon. Member, as I know that he was a Member of the Committee and took an important part in it. There is evidence before the Committee that the number of reporters should be either ten or twelve; but if hon. Members will turn to Question 973, they will see that a Mr. McCallum was asked—And you think that to give us a full report such as you have mentioned, ten reporters could accomplish that properly?—I believe so. Ten for the House of Commons only is the House of Commons I am thinking of.Ten reporters would be able to supply the House with a full report of speeches made here by four o'clock in the afternoon following, though twelve reporters have been described as necessary in another part of the evidence. That is only on the supposition that the report has to be delivered by ten o'clock. That, however, is an unnecessarily early hour. Four o'clock is sufficiently early to enable Members to have a report of the speeches they made on the previous day. All will agree I think that that will be sufficient information to make Members thoroughly conversant with what has taken place. Coming to the question of remuneration I suggest, subject to correction, that the remuneration should be not loss than £8 8s. for each reporter.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
Yes; there is evidence before the Committee that, while the present staff have found the hours of work far too laborious, they made no complaint against the salary. That salary is £7 7s. a week. It is also in evidence that it is possible to get the best reporter procurable at a salary of £8 8s. a week. I, therefore, take the salary considered to be adequate for obtaining the best possible reporter, and I suggest that £8 8s. is a proper remuneration, week by week, as the session goes on. That will amount to between £220 and £300 for each reporter according to whether there is or is not an Autumn Sitting. Then I come to the case of the chief of the staff, as he is technically called, a gentleman who at present exists, and has the control of the reporting upstairs, and I suggest that the proper remuneration for him will be found to be £500 or £600. I think the present chief of the staff receives £300, but I am told that that is not an adequate sum for a gentleman occupying that position and that it is not sufficient to enable the contractors to get the full use of his time. Therefore it is suggested that there should be much higher pay. I would add that, as far as possible, the present staff is to be utilised in order to prevent individual hardship. I come to the question of what is known as a "full report," which I have already described, and which is recommended by the Committee. If the House accept the proposals of the Government upon this point they will be acting in accordance with the recommendation of the Committee of 1892, as well as in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee of 1907. I hope, therefore, that there will be no indisposition on the part of Members to accept the proposals of the Government on this head. I have dealt with the question of corrections and the limitation of alterations. Let me say one word on the question of protecting Members from the possibility of accidental misrepresentation. I think it will be found in the evidence of Mr. McCallum before the Committee, that in Scotland, and the case may be similar in England, an official reporter is appointed in the Courts of Justice, who is entrusted with the official report of the proceedings which, speaking with submission, are even more important than 1363 the speeches of Members of this House, and the record made by the official reporter is accepted in regard to matters of legal intricacy. Therefore, I think we may be perfectly content to take the view that the official reporter, reporting under the authority of this House, will record the speeches of hon. Members with nothing more than an occasional and accidental misrepresentation of what is actually said. There is one point with regard to the full report which cannot be altogether left out of sight, and that is the addition to the bulk of Hansard, already sufficiently bulky, which might take place. But in view of the enormous amount of matter which is recorded in Hansard, a good deal could easily be taken out. Certain information, so the Committee found out, is recorded no less than seventeen times in the session. A good deal of other information is printed four times—in the Table of Contents, in the Index, in the Journal, and in the Votes and Proceedings of Parliament. Surely it is perfectly unnecessary to have a recapitulation of—I do not know that I am justified in using the word "information"—of facts which I think Members of the House would be perfectly satisfied to have recorded once and no more. The Table of Contents has been reduced under the modification to which I alluded a little time ago. It has already been reduced by one-third, but a much greater reduction can and ought to take place, and in accordance with our proposals will take place. I will deal, in conclusion, with the question of printing, which is being done by contract. There is no direct recommendation by the Committee—I use the word "direct"—on this point. But in Paragraph 13 of the Report it is stated—With regard to the printing of the reports your Committee understand that the Select Committee on Official Publications has reported in favour of the establishment of a Government printing office. Should such an office be established, which your Committee hope may be the case, they consider that the printing of the debates should be amongst the earliest work to be undertaken.Therefore, I am justified in saying that there is no direct recommendation, but, on the other hand, there is an indirect representation. But such a scheme, if all the departments of the Government 1364 had to be filled up with machinery, or if a central printing office had to be established to deal with all the Government printing work, would cost £200,000 or £250,000, and would entail the upkeep of a large stuff. The evidence on which the Committee founded their statement in Paragraph 13 was that of one gentleman only, the Controller of the Stationery Office. I hope I am not unduly suspicious if in this matter I look with some doubt on the evidence of any gentleman who has charge of a Department of Government. He is only anxious to magnify the importance and value of his office. One is apt to do the same thing oneself, and, in spite of the testimony of a single gentleman, however eminent and however acute, I think his cannot be taken as the last word to be said on so important a subject as this. The Departmental Committee, which was appointed to inquire into the subject, reported against it, and the Select Committee on Official Publications, in 1906, only recommended that a Government printing office should be created for the purpose of printing confidential documents, but they reported directly against the establishment of an office to do all Government printing. Therefore, the Government propose to the Committee that the printing should be continued as at present, under contracts made by the Stationery Office. But I think it is quite clear that some of the conditions under which the printing is done ought to be revised in any contract to be made hereafter by the Stationery Office. The Department can very easily provide for the amelioration of any conditions with regard to the actual printing which it may be considered are required. I have presented what I hope is a clear and satisfactory statement of the case. I think it will be found that if the Committee accept the proposals of the Government, they will lead to a far more satisfactory state of things in regard to the reporting of the debates in this House than has hitherto existed.
§ MR ARTHUR LEE (Hampshire, Fareham)
I would like, if I may, to congratulate the hon. Gentleman and also the Government on the decision at which they have arrived in regard 1365 to the reporting of the debates. I think it must be admitted on all hands that the present arrangements for reporting the debates are extremely unsatisfactory. They have been long condemned by individual Members, and we have it now stated in terms by a Committee of the House. I am glad to say that I have no personal complaint to make with regard to reports of my remarks. I have always been reported at quite as great length as I deserve, even when reduced to one-third. There are many Members of the Front Bench who are so treated, while no doubt the remarks of hon. friends who sit behind me are reported at greater length, or are reported at considerable length.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
I would point out to the hon. Gentleman that it is stated in the evidence that hon. Gentlemen who frequently address the House are very often "cut down" to the legal minimum.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
My point is this, rather, that it is admitted on all hands to be objectionable that the decision as to what is or is not a good speech, or a redundant speech, should be left to a contractor. Then as to the price which is paid for a copy of the clay's proceedings, that it also should be left to the contractor is a matter of general complaint. Hon. Members who desire to obtain a single copy of the day's proceedings must have found that the price varies front 1s. to 2s. or 2s. 6d.; whereas in other countries and in our own Colonies, where the debates are reported fully, 2d. or 3d. is the most that is charged. I do not think the contractor should be allowed to recoup himself for any loss out of the pockets of hon. Members who desired to obtain reports of the speeches. We have been told by successive Secretaries to the Treasury that we ought always to rely on the reports in The Times. I am sure that all parties in this House owe a great debt of gratitude to The Times for the fulness and excellence of their reports; at the same time, we do not know that those reports will always be continued. There are many people in this country who regard 1366 the long reports which appear in The Times as very dull reading. It is difficult for us to understand why that is so. There is an increasing desire for what are called descriptive reports—reports which convey none of the substantial features of the debates, but give great prominence to any humorous incident, even describing the features and possibly the clothing of hon. Members, but which are hardly a serious record of what has taken place. Then again we are left to the discretion of outside and in a sense irresponsible agencies. If I may be permitted a digression I would state that I remember very well going into this question some years ago in Canada. I was informed by the head of a telegraph agency, something similar to the Associated Press, that they supplied provincial papers with news which it was thought would be congenial to the tastes of the different localities, but sometimes it was not approved. For example, a newspaper in the West, at the time of the illness of the Emperor Frederick of Germany, an event which was being followed with sympathetic interest all over the world, and was referred to in the agency's daily dispatch, sent the following telegram to the manager—Send less German Emperor and more baseball.I do not think the reports of proceedings of this House, as regards provincial Members, should be left to the discretion of any outside agency whatever. This is the only Legislature in the world, I believe, which does not have a full and complete official report of its proceedings, and I am very glad to hear that the Government are proposing to adopt the recommendation of the Committee, to the effect that a full report should be supplied. I am aware that it is a little difficult to understand what is meant by a full report. There is a long definition in the Report of the Committee, and the hon. Member, I think, has a little evaded that definition. He talked about redundancies. The observation that a good many remarks made in this House are redundant, I presume only refers to repetitions. Then the hon. Gentleman spoke of putting speeches into literary shape. That is rather a large order.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
I do not wish to be misunderstood. I was referring to the fact that some hon. Members in this House are in the habit, when the proofs are delivered to them, of setting to work to trim them up.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
I am delighted to hear that it is proposed to stop that practice. There is only one point of serious objection, as far as I can see, to the proposals of the Government, and that is that the report will not be available until four p.m. the next day. I do not understand why that is necessary. It is clearly shown in the evidence before the Committee that in the House of Commons of Canada, where the conditions are very similar to our own, the reports are always delivered between nine and ten in the morning. That also applies to Washington. It was shown, and I think it is recommended by the Committee, that when the new system comes into force the reports should be available early the next morning. The right hon. Gentleman said that four o'clock would do just as well because the report would be available before the next day's debate, but I do not think really that is quite the case. For instance, it may be that the hon. Member who opens a debate has to reply to an exceedingly important speech delivered the night before. It is hardly enough to hand him the report at four o'clock in the afternoon just as he is getting on his legs. I think it is not too much to ask that he should have it the next morning in time to see what was actually said, and it has been clearly proved by the evidence, by the statements of the head of the Stationery Office, and by the recommendations of the Committee, that the report could be got out at nine or ten o'clock in the morning without any serious additional cost. I hope, therefore, the Government will reconsider that point. Of course, if they can show that the cost is prohibitive it is another matter; but I cannot believe, if we are to take the statements of the Committee, that there would be really any additional cost at all, and it would be the greatest possible convenience to Members of the House. There is one point of detail on which the hon. Gentleman did not give us any information, and that is in what way he 1368 is going to facilitate the operations of the reporters, because, after all, apart from the question of the qualifications of reporters, with which he has dealt, I feel that the necessity which has arisen in the past for a great deal of correction has been largely due to the fact that it has been a physical impossibility for the reporters to hear what is said, unless it is an important speech and the House is quiet, and hon. Members are giving the speaker and the reporter, so to speak, a fair chance. A great deal of evidence was given before the Committee on this point, and I think it was made clear that it was almost impossible for the reporters, if confined to their present positions, to be certain of making an accurate report of what is said, and I had before hoped the hon. Gentleman would be able to give us some information as to how the reporters would be accommodated in a better fashion.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
I think otherwise the scheme asks for something which cannot possibly be done. We are to be dependent in future upon unrevised reports. I have no objection to that in principle so long as the reporter has a fair chance to report what is said. I am very glad to hear that the hon. Gentleman is going to deal with that point. I think it would be to the general convenience, and certainly to the general interest, if the hon. Gentleman could tell us whether the new system would come into force during the present session, or if we are to wait until another year. The hon. Gentleman and the Government, by their proposals, are removing a long felt grievance, and one which affects every Member of the House, except possibly the Leaders on both sides who have, I presume, nothing to complain of, except the fact that the reports come late so that they are very little use except for historical purposes. The hon. Gentleman, by his proposal, has removed this grievance, and I offer 1369 him hearty thanks for what he has proposed.
§ MR. CHARLES ALLEN
, as Chairman of the Committee, heartily thanked Government for accepting practically in full their chief recommendation, and a good many details of the Report as well. The main principle of the Report was that the House should do what practically every other Legislature in the world did—set up a staff of its own reporters to do its own reporting in its own way. In doing that they were only doing the right thing. Hitherto, the system had been that the reporting was given out to a printing contractor who found his own reporters. The Committees had gone very carefully into that, and found that the system was bad, first of all because, subject to the conditions that all Questions and Answers from Ministers would be reported in full, that debates in Committee and on Private Bills were to be reported as fully as debates in the House, and that no Member was to be reported at less than one-third of his speech, the length of the reports was left absolutely to the contractor. That seemed to mean that it was absolutely in the discretion of the contractor to decide at what length, and whether in the first or third person, any Member was to be reported. That did not seem to be fair to the ordinary Members of the House. Of course it was true, as the contractor had said, that most Members were reported at a considerable greater length than one-third, and it was also said that specialists were always reported in full. The question immediately arose as to who were the specialists, and he was not able to decide. At any rate it seemed to them that the system was not calculated to give a true reflex of what really was said in the House. A second and an even stronger reason was that the contract system led, and must lead, to the employment of too few reporters. The contractor naturally wanted to make money, and nobody blamed him for it. The result was that he employed the actual minimum number of reporters who could turn out the kind of report that he required. The evidence of the Hansard reporters, and of their inde- 1370 pendent colleagues in the Gallery, showed that they were working under conditions which were not at all creditable to the House. Practically it came to this, that the Hansard reporters were turning out a longer report than that of The Times, who employed double the number of men. That did not make for good reporting, and certainly was not creditable to the House. The third reason which induced them to report against the contracting system was that, subject to the condition that the reporter must always be present in the Gallery, the contractor was allowed to get his reports where and how he liked. That meant, of course, that the reporter might make use of newspaper reports. He had to take home a great part of his notes and write them up by two o'clock the next afternoon, and, naturally, in the morning he took The Times, the Telegraph, the Bradford Observer, or any other paper wherein he thought he would find a good report of some local member, and fitted it in to his own notes. It was permitted, and the reporter would have been a fool if he had not made use of that system. Such a system must detract from the independence of the final version given in the official report, although the reporter took a full note for his own purposes. He hoped the new system would be fairer to Members and juster to the reporters, and would, for the first time, give them a real, genuine account of what had been said in the House the day before. He was a little sorry the Government was not going to give them the report till four o'clock in the afternoon. The evidence was that it could be given the first thing in the morning with twelve reporters. Still he was a practical man, and he wanted to go for what he could get. This was the first step, and he hoped they might get the others later on. The Committee certainly contemplated that Members would be able to correct their speeches. Still the principle they had fought for had been accepted, and he would not quarrel with the Government on that account. It was certainly true that correcting had gone too far on many occasions. There was one famous instance where two speeches were actually dropped out altogether. The contractor also had given instances in which Members had looked through 1371 their speeches, and he thought corrected them, and asked that the asterisk should not be put in in order that they might not be held responsible. That was against the spirit and the letter of the rules. What a man said in that House he ought to stand by. In the future he had little fear that correction would be necessary. How often had they to correct The Times? He hoped that in future they would have as good a report as The Times report, even more ample and equally correct. The Committee had not recommended the reporting of Grand Committees. He was anxious that nothing should be said as to that, because it might prejudice the principle they were fighting for. At the same time he thought the reporting of Grand Committees by an official staff was inevitable sooner or later. He knew the Government objected at present and he was sorry, they did. Grand Committees meant a great deal more work, work done more quickly than in the past, but it also meant that from the cognisance of a large number of Members the work was taken away. The Children Bill was now in Grand Committee. They would know what was the final form of the Bill when it came up for Third Reading, but they would not know how it arrived at that final form. But he was not going to quarrel with the Government on that point. Finally, he wished to make an appeal to hon. Members to help this new system, and they could do it very easily. Anybody who had read the evidence knew how difficult it was for reporters in the Press Gallery to hear what was going on. They had bitter complaints from many witnesses, but if hon. Members would only realise how difficult it was for the reporter to hear, and how the dropping of the voice at the end of a sentence made all the difference in writing it out afterwards, he was sure they would try and do their best to make the new system a success. The best results, of course, could only be got by having a reporter on the floor of the House, and the Committee would have recommended that course if they had for a moment imagined that the two Front Benches would agree to it, but they felt sure that they would not. [Cries of "Why?"] In conclusion, he once more thanked the Government for having 1372 adopted the main principle of the Report of the Committee, and he hoped the system would improve and develop as time went on.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
said it was one of the characteristics of the British nature to be averse to State interference in all things, and therefore they entrusted as many things as possible to the unchecked action of private enterprise. This particular industry of the reporting of the debates, which was, above all, a State interest and no other, had been perhaps left the longest to the action of private enterprise. It was absurd to leave this matter to private contract and private enterprise, because there was not the same reason in this particular case for economy as in other matters of State action. There could be only one official report of the House of Commons proceedings, and therefore to have it well done, even if it was expensive, could not serve as a precedent for doing every other branch of the State's work extravagantly. As result of the system of leaving this work to the casual action of private enterprise, they had always had the reports of their Parliamentary proceedings affected with the taint of journalistic as distinct from historic considerations. That was inevitable. They had discovered, according to the Report of the Select Committee, that what they imagined was an independent report was something which had been "doctored" up with newspaper cuttings. Some of them had gone even further than that and suspected that Hansard reports had sometimes been identical with those they had observed in London and provincial papers. Obviously the journalistic quality was totally different from what they wanted in the official Parliamentary reports; they wanted historical and scientific lines to be pursued in reporting. After listening to what the Financial Secretary had suggested, he was not quite sure that they were going to eliminate all those defects unless they provided that no member of the official reporting staff should be allowed to act in the Press Gallery as reporter for any other newspaper. As Chairman of one of the Standing Committees he had a strong opinion that the time had more than come 1373 when something ought to be done to get an effective report of the proceedings in those Committees. From the conversational nature of the debate, it was difficult for the members of the Press, with the unsatisfactory accommodation provided for them, to hear adequately what was going on. As they did not get an official report of the proceedings in Standing Committees it was all the more necessary that the dry official record should be as full as possible. When he was in the chair he always did his best to see that this was carried out. According to the antique practice of this House, when a new clause was moved in Committee, the practice in the official record was only to give the title of the clause. How important this might be was shown by the fact that in 1894 or 1895, when the Employers' Liability Bill was before the House, a clause relating to contracting out went backwards and forwards between the two Houses and eventually proved the wreck of the Bill, and became a matter in dispute between the two great Parties in the State at a general election, and vet there was the greatest difficulty in finding out the actual facts in regard to that clause in the official records of the House. That was an absurd practice.
§ MR. BOWERMAN (Deptford)
thanked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury for giving life to some of the recommendations embodied in the Report of the Select Committee. He had been told that the Committee was appointed for the purpose of shirking the question, but he had been reassured on that point by the statement made by the Financial Secretary. With regard to the reporting staff he thought it was quite time that they had some protection from the House. It was not so many years ago that the reporting staff of Hansard, employed as they were by a contractor, were stranded so far as their wages were concerned, and on that occasion the debates copy was very properly retained by the reporters until they secured the wages to which they were entitled. That being so, it was high time for the State to step in and endeavour to obtain for these gentleman who worked so hard in the interests of the House security so 1374 far as their wages were concerned. It was made clear to the Members of the Committee that, by comparison with their colleagues in the Gallery, the official staff were, to use a well-known expression, being sweated week after week. This was unfair to them as professional men and certainly unfair to hon. Members who made speeches in the House. When the Committee had ample evidence that these men were being underpaid and overworked, they felt fully justified in recommending that an official staff should be appointed and paid out of the funds of the State. Although he gathered that the Hansard reporters were, in future, to receive a higher salary, he was not quite sure whether they were to be employed all the year round, or simply for the session. If it was only for the session he thought it was very unfortunate. It was unfair to the gentlemen who composed the official staff that the House should avail themselves of their services during the session and then tell them that their work was over until the House resumed and they must find occupation elsewhere. He thought there should be some recognition on the part of the House that the official staff were servants of the House, or at any rate that their services should be secured for the entire year. With regard to the hour of publication, he understood that the Financial Secretary did not see his way to insist that the report should be published before four o'clock in the afternoon. He would like to know what reason there was for not publishing the report at the same time as the daily papers, which could publish from sixteen to twenty pages of matter every morning before breakfast. There was not the slightest reason why the doings of this House should not be on the breakfast-table of every Member at the same time as his daily paper. The creation of a night companionship was a very simple matter, and it would be much more satisfactory to the House and even to the reporters themselves that an effort should be made to get the official reports published at eight or nine o'clock in the morning. The Financial Secretary had given some reasons for not setting up a Government printing office, and he had stated that the official who 1375 had recommended that course had probably some ulterior motive, or that it might he to his own personal advantage.
§ MR. BOWERMAN
said that the official referred to rendered excellent service to the Committee, and he was more than satisfied that his suggestions were based upon what might be termed the interests of the public and this House rather than his own personal interests. As a Member of that Committee he was certainly disposed to pay great attention and to give great consideration to the suggestions made by that official. He understood that the difficulty in the way of setting up a printing-office was the question of expense. That was a question which was not always considered in this House. As a matter of fact at the War Office the State already had a printing office, and a very fine establishment it was. The work was done through a contractor who was paid a higher price for the work done because it was of a more confidential character, although the men actually performing the work were only paid the ordinary wages current in London. That seemed to him obviously unfair. Might he supplement that statement by saying that within the past twelve or fifteen months men who had worked in that office for twenty-five or thirty years had been discarded as if they were old iron or old machinery? These men who had been doing confidential work for the nation all these years were hopelessly placed on the pavement because of passing circumstances. He thought that if the House could see its way even to print the debates such a thing as that would be impossible in future. He did not, of course, make an appeal in regard to these men. He thought it was little short of a scandal that men employed indirectly by this House and the nation should be thrown aside as useless after twenty-five years' service. In conclusion he wanted again to express his satisfaction that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury had seen his way to accept one recommendation of the Committee, and he sincerely hoped that that might simply be the 1376 forerunner of the adoption of other recommendations embodied in the Report. If, later on, the hon. Gentleman could see his way to set up a printing office even to make a start with work of this particular character, he was sure that the House would not regret the expenditure, and he thought it would be all the better in the interest not only of the House, but also of the men who were called upon to work in the office.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said he desired to join in congratulating the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on inaugurating the system of reporting which he had proposed. He thought it would be regarded as a great reform, and he was sure that, this being the first work to which the hon. Gentleman had set his hand as Financial Secretary to the Treasury, it must be a satisfaction to him to know that he had met them in a very generous manner. He desired most cordially to support what the hon. Member for Deptford had said with reference to the employment of a staff of reporters. The right hon. Member for the Hallam Division of Sheffield had said that the gentlemen who reported the Parliamentary proceedings should not be connected with the Press, but that they should devote the whole of their time to preparing and presenting the serious record of the proceedings of Parliament. He agreed with that view, but he submitted to the Secretary to the Treasury that it would be quite impossible to obtain the entire services of these gentlemen on the official reporting staff unless they were employed regularly throughout the year. He did not know what the financial aspect of that might be, but he felt very strongly, and so did a great many others, that even at the cost of a little extra expenditure the gentlemen who reported the debates should be employed throughout the year, and regarded as servants of the House. When the House was not in session it would be very easy, if they were adequately paid, to engage their services on other public work. He strongly urged that view on the Secretary to the Treasury, and he could assure the hon. Gentleman that it would give great satisfaction to hon. Members belonging 1377 to the Labour Party, as well as to his friends of the Nationalist Party, to know that there would be no haphazard sessional employment., but that the gentlemen engaged in the serious work of reporting the proceedings of Parliament would be regularly employed throughout the year. There was no need for him to emphasise what had already been said as to the unsatisfactory conditions of the gentlemen engaged in reporting the proceedings of Parliament, but for the benefit of those members of the Committee who might not have had time to read the Report of the Select Committee he would like to quote a few lines of the Report with reference to the overwork of the gentlemen upstairs. In their Report the Committee said—In the opinion of your Committee this overwork has been persistent, and in some cases very excessive, as, for example, this session, when during the debate on the Army Annual Bill the staff were on duty for more than twenty consecutive hours.If they had a record of employment under those conditions presented to them on the part of any private employer in any business throughout the country it would create the utmost indignation, and yet here in the House of Commons they had it on record beyond doubt that the gentlemen who reported their proceedings had been obliged to work under those very trying, and he might almost say, inhuman conditions. He did not know the case mentioned by the hon. Member for Deptford—he had no doubt the statement of the hon. Member was absolutely correct—in which the reporters, being unable to obtain their salaries, by way of retaliation retained their transcript of the speeches which they had taken down in this House. All he could say was that the "copy" was a very bad substitute for their salaries. He could hardly imagine the feelings of a gentleman who, having spent many weary hours in taking down speeches, at the end of the week had to inform his wife and children that he had no salary, though they had been looking forward to it cheerfully. A child might go to him and say: "Did you bring us anything home?" and he might reply: "I have brought home a very long and accurate report of a speech by the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London." The speeches of the hon. 1378 Baronet were highly interesting, but they could not raise a family on them. He was sure that it would be a matter of great congratulation that this was to be put an end to. He hoped that those important officials of the House who reported their debates would, in future, receive proper and adequate consideration. He was surprised to hear the Secretary to the Tresaury state that the reports would be delivered at four o'clock in the afternoon. All the Members of the Select Committee understood that the reports would be delivered simultaneously with the Votes and Proceedings in the morning. They were given to understand that a certain economy could be effected by delivering the reports of speeches, the Votes and Proceedings, and the division lists by the same messenger. But if the speeches were not to be delivered till four o'clock, there would be a double delivery, and there would be no economy and no greater convenience. He asked the hon. Gentleman to reconsider that point. He desired to call attention to the part of the Report in which the Select Committee referred to the strong desirability of the continuance of the publication of the Irish debates in a separate volume. He hoped that nothing would interfere with that. He was astonished to hear the Secretary to the Treasury state that there was no recommendation made by the Committee as to the reporting of the Standing Committees. That was the only point on which there was some slight difference-of opinion in the Committee. In Paragraph 17 of the Report, the opinion was distinctly expressed that under the altered conditions imposed by the new rules there should be, if not a full report, an adequate summary of the proceedings of Standing Committees.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon. It was the hon. Gentleman who acted as Chairman of the Select Committee.
§ MR. CHARLES ALLEN
The hon. Gentleman is not quite correct as to 1379 what I said in regard to that. The hon. Gentleman will recollect that the decision the Committee came to was that these words might be read the other way.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said he remembered there was some slight divergence of opinion, and the paragraph in the Report was really arrived at—he supposed he might say so without any breach of confidence—as a compromise, and, as the hon. Gentleman had said, on the understanding that it might be read different ways. Of course, he quite expected that it would be read in the way in which he read it. He did say that undoubtedly some provision should be made for reporting the proceedings of Standing Committees. The Irish University Bill, which was going before a Standing Committee, was a measure of the utmost importance, and it was an absurd thing that such a measure should be inquired into without any official record being taken of the proceedings. He did not press that point now. He certainly would be very sorry to see the scheme of the Government interfered with or stopped in any way by the question of reporting of Standing Committees. He was absolutely certain that the question of reporting the proceedings of those Committees would come up again. Under the new rules Bills of the first importance were brought before the Standing Committees, and it was absurd to suppose that they could go on as they used to do. He hoped that hon. Members for their own convenience, and to maintain the honour of the House in relation to the question of employment, would accept the scheme of the Government. This was the only Parliament in the world which had no official reporting staff, and he hoped they would decide that evening that that state of things should come to an end. He was sure that every Member of the Committee would agree with him that the House of Commons generally was under a considerable debt of gratitude to the hon. Member for the Stroud Division, who was Chairman of the Select Committee. The hon. Gentleman devoted a great deal of time and care to the preparation of the Report, and it must 1380 be a source of satisfaction to him to think that his name would be associated with this undoubtedly great and much-needed reform.
§ MR. LAURENCE HARDY (Kent, Ashford)
said he did not wish to enter on the general question, for he believed that the House was generally convinced that the Government scheme would be satisfactory to it and that it would lead to a far better condition of things than had obtained in the past. He was sorry that the hon. Gentleman did not deal with the question as to where the reporters were to sit, for that was a very important item in the scheme. A satisfactory and full report without revision could not be obtained unless the Government had made up their minds to place the reporters in a place where they could listen to all portions of the debate even when the House was somewhat disturbed. He agreed as to the desirability of making the appointments of the reporters permanent and not merely sessional. That would be an advantage in every way. They all knew that many Select and other Committees sat during the autumn, and it would be possible to use their services for reporting when the House was not sitting. He would like to ask what was the actual meaning of the words used as to the reports being delivered at four o'clock in the afternoon. If they were to be delivered at their houses in the afternoon, when they were at the House, it did not seem to him to be an efficient way of dealing with the matter or one which would be satisfactory to hon. Members. He believed that the Committee meant that the reports should be delivered in the morning with the Votes and other Papers, so that Members might have an opportunity of looking at their speeches and making any desired alterations before eight o'clock. If the reports were not delivered till four in the afternoon it meant that no alterations could he made until next day. It was necessary that there should be powers of revision, even if they were much more limited than at present. But he chiefly rose for the purpose of emphasising what had been said as to the entire omission of the Government to allude to the 1381 suggestion of reporting the Standing Committees. The hon. Member who was Chairman of the Select Committee had said that they could read Paragraph 17 of the Report in two ways. He confessed that he knew of many Statutes passed by the House which could be read in two ways; but he could not imagine that Paragraph 17 could be read in any other way than that the Committee had seriously considered this question and held that it ought to be dealt with, although they acknowledged that it meant some cost. If anybody read the paragraph carefully it could not be disguised that the Committee were in favour of the principle of reporting the proceedings of the Standing Committees. There was not a word about that when the hon. Gentleman explained the new scheme. They were, therefore, justified in asking some explanation from the Government why they still persisted in not reporting the proceedings upstairs. Bills of great importance were now sent to those Committees, and they ought to have an official report, even abbreviated, but full so far as the essential features of the debates were concerned. He thought that the statements of Members in charge of Government Bills ought to be given in full, as they would be very valuable to refer to when the Report Stage was reached. Many Members knew how very essential that was when debating the Report Stage of a Bill. He remembered while the Workmen's Compensation Bill was passing through the House there were several cases where the Home Secretary said in Committee what he would or would not do on Report, and, when an Amendment had been carried against him in Committee, he indicated what would be done at a later stage. Unless there was some official report of what the Member in charge of a Government measure stated in Committee they were at a great disadvantage, first, because many hon. Members were debarred from taking part in the discussions in Committee, and, secondly, because they were debarred from seeing what had been said, especially by responsible Members of the Government. There was another question. They had now eight Chairmen of these Committees, who were granted extremely full powers. At present there 1382 was no responsibility for any official record of the rulings of these Chairmen. The Report said that the rulings of the Speaker and of the Chairmen of Committees should in all cases be submitted to them and the proofs corrected. The Committee submitted that these rulings should not only be taken down at the time but should have the imprimatur of the Speaker and the Chairmen. The rulings of the Chairmen of Standing and Select Committees were not at present reported, and the consequence was that differences in practice were constantly arising. He, therefore, thought that with reference to official statements, Chairmen's rulings, and other matters, it was really essential that, in order to have a proper record of the debates and to carry on the proper official continuity of what was going on in the House, they should have some description given officially of the debates upstairs. There was another point. They had Standing Committees sitting almost continually during the Session dealing with private Members' Bills. These Bills were of greater importance lately, because they had. after passing a Second Reading, frequently been adopted by the Government. But they had no record of what went on in the standing Committees. Although there were fifteen or sixteen of these Bills this year probably only two of them would reach the Report stage—possibly not one. But if those Bills were produced in another session of Parliament and proceeded with, Members had no means of knowing what took place in the discussions of them in the preceding session, because there was no official record. The time had come, he thought, when the House ought to deal with this matter and not be diverted from it by considerations of some small expense. It was not a very large matter, but it was of great importance to the House. He would be sorry to force the Government to take any step adverse to their scheme, but he hoped that some assurance would be given that the subject would be dealt with in the future. He felt deeply on the subject, and he was quite sure that the Government ought to adopt the course he suggested and so carry on the good work they had begun in regard to reporting.
§ MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
said he wished to emphasise the importance of what had been said by his hon. friend regarding the possibility of the reporting staff being employed on the basis of a twelve months rather than a sessional engagement. He did not know whether the reporting staff had a difficulty at the end of the session in finding other employment, but he knew that considerable difficulty and hardship arose in other departments connected with the House—particularly in the dining-room and other places—on account of the servants being dismissed at the end of the session and having difficulty in finding employment for the rest of the year. Of course, if the reporting staff were employed by the year the salaries would have to be adjusted accordingly. He thought his hon. friend would be well-advised to take this subject into his very careful and serious consideration. In regard to issuing the reports at an earlier period of the day, it had been stated that by the employment of two additional reporters they would be able to have the Parliamentary reports with their papers in the morning. If that were so the object was well worthy of achievement. He hoped it would be convenient for the gentleman responsible to include in the report a complete list of the divisions on the previous day. Hitherto the selection of the divisions which appeared in the official report seemed to be left entirely to the discretion of the contractors, and when one took down his Hansard for reference and wanted to see the result of certain divisions they could not be found, while in the case of divisions on minor questions there was a record of the full list of Members who voted. He hoped it would be found convenient to give the whole of the divisions that took place during the session. As to reporting the Standing Committees, he agreed with a great deal of what had been said by the right hon. Member for Sheffield. He agreed with the right hon. Member that they should have a complete historical record of all that transpired in the Standing Committees; but he hoped that the Government would not be led into accepting the principle of giving full 1384 reports or even one-third reports of the speeches there delivered. He had had considerable experience in the appointment of these Committees, and also as a member of such Committees, and from that experience he maintained that it was the absence of official reports of the speeches delivered that had made their work so effective in the past; and he believed it would be a great mistake if the Government were to yield to the desire expressed here and there for a full report of the speeches in the Standing Committees. Members on both sides of the House knew very well that in a Standing Committee there was little or any opportunity of scoring a party victory by anything they might say in the course of the debate, because it was not likely to appear in an official report, although it might in the local newspapers. What followed? As business men they came to the consideration of the questions which were before the Committee, and they endeavoured to transact the business as business men would transact any ordinary business entrusted to their care. But if they reported fully or to any considerable extent the speeches made in the Standing Committee, he thought they would very materially impede the progress of the work of that body and certainly interfere with the efficiency of the work that was done. But he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman opposite that they should have a perfect record kept of the Amendments moved, of the new clauses, and the rulings given by the various Chairmen. All these things could be kept he thought with greater accuracy and with great advantage to their historical record, but he hoped, if he might repeat himself, his hon. friend and the Government would not be induced to consent to any more lengthy reports of the speeches made in Committee than obtained at the present time. He would like also to support the suggestion and advice which had been given to the House by the hon. Member for Stroud. He regretted more than he could say a tendency which had grown up of late years amongst Members of both front Benches. They seemed to assume that there was nobody interested in anything 1385 they said except the Members opposite; their voices were dropped again and again to an undertone, and he was not surprised that the reporters in the Gallery were not able to ascertain clearly what had been said and report it accurately. As had been said, if they would keep their voices up and remember that there were other persons in the House anxious to hear what they said as well as Members across the Table, he believed it would lead to accuracy and fullness in the reports of the debates. He congratulated his hon. friend on having at all events made an attempt to give something like a satisfactory status to the reports of this House, and he hoped that he would not be deterred from the good work to which he had set his hand by the idea of a mere economy here and there, but that in a generous spirit he would carry this matter out to the end.
§ SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)
said he did not quite agree with the remarks of the hon. Gentleman as to the reporting of Standing Committees. The hon. Gentleman said he hoped there would not be a lengthy report, but he was, of course, aware that there was no report at present lengthy or otherwise. [An HON MEMBER: There is quite enough.] There was nothing, and, at all events, in nine out of ten cases nothing appeared on the Paper in regard to these Committees. Nor did he agree with the fear of the hon. Member that the reporting of the speeches would lead to the debates not being carried on in the same spirit as now. There might be one or two Members who would do what was suggested, but the generality of Members would not. The necessity for some report had arisen since important Bills were sent to these Committees. He was a member of the Scottish Standing Committee which dealt with the land question. He did not remember how many days they sat, but he thought it was sixty or seventy, or something of that sort. He knew the number was very great. It was a very important Committee, and during its sittings very many speeches and statements were made by the three Members of the Government, viz., the Secretary for Scotland, the Lord-Advocate, and the Solicitor-General for 1386 Scotland. Statements and pledges were made as to what was going to take place when the Bill came back for the Report stage in this House. In many cases the Members to whom the pledges were given abstained from carrying on the discussion, and agreed that they would reserve further discussion until the Report stage. He thought he was not exaggerating when he said that the Committee sat for two months, and it was quite impossible for any single Member to remember absolutely what pledge had or had not been given. He did not, for a moment, say that the Government did not adhere to their pledges, but it was equally difficult for the members of the Government to remember some fifty or sixty pledges as to what they would do when the Bill Caine back to the House, and he thought in order to avoid Party recrimination alone there should be some report. It was quite possible that, incidentally, a member of the Government might say: "I will consider this favourably and on Report I will express the result of my consideration," and an Amendment would be withdrawn on account of that. It was quite conceivable that the member of the Government concerned with a big Bill might forget all about such a pledge, and it might give rise to the statement, that people had not been fairly treated. He was sure the hon. Gentleman would deplore that, and so would everybody in the House. Therefore, he thought it was very necessary that there should be reports of the speeches of members of the Government who were members of these Standing Committees. He would himself like to see, not a full, but a condensed report of everybody's speeches, but he felt certain that the speeches of Members of the Government who were in charge of the Bill ought to be reported, and he hoped the Government would consider that. He believed the cost would be very small, and he failed to see why the Government should object to it. With that exception he was glad to say that for the first time he thoroughly agreed with the proposals made by the Government. Except with regard to the reporting of Standing Committees he did not think 1387 there was any single thing with which he could find fault. His hon. friend beneath him had talked about private Members having greater facilities than Members of the Front Bench, but might he point out that Members of the Front Bench were reported in the first person at length, and that Members behind them only got one-third of their speeches in the third person. Besides that members of the Government had great advantages as they were always called upon when they rose. Then they had an opportunity of speaking from a box so that they could arrange their votes and papers, and it was rather hard upon the private Member rising to address the House that he should not, at any rate, have his remarks reported as fully as the right hon. Gentleman who had ordinarily a seat on the Front Bench and who, in many cases received, he would not say an adequate, but a handsome salary for his services. He was very glad that for the future, the Members of the House would be treated in regard to the report of their speeches in the same way as Ministers. As to corrections, he never corrected the reports of his speeches; therefore, he could not be said to add to the expense, and he really did not see why Members should not trust to the reporters to report them fully. Of course, mistakes would occur. They could not help that, but he believed that with a larger staff of reporters, and with increased facilities—and on that point he did not gather that the Financial Secretary said anything about the increased facilities upstairs—[Mr. WILLIAM REDMOND: He said he would do so.]—a satisfactory result would be obtained. His speeches had always been fairly accurate, and he thought in the future their own staff would report them with accuracy. With regard to the delivery of speeches at four o'clock he understood that if one went to the Vote Office he would obtain a report of his speech at that hour. This was an important question. He would like to ask the hon. Gentleman whether he was right in thinking that he did not propose at four o'clock to send the speeches of the previous day round to the houses of the hon. Members, but that the hon. Member who wanted to see his speech should 1388 at that hour be able to go to the Vote Office and obtain it.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
was glad of that, because the previous speaker seemed to think that the speech was to be delivered at one's house. A speech delivered there at that hour would he of no use whatever, and would add to the expense. He thought it would be quite sufficient if the speeches were obtainable at the Vote Office at four o'clock. [An HON. MEMBER: When will they be delivered?] They would not be delivered at all. They would be in the Vote Office and hon. Members must go and get them in the same way as the Votes. He did not, however, want to see his speeches, and he thought it would be a good thing if hon. Members did not see their speeches. The hon. Gentleman had made no reference to putting the reporters on the floor of the House. He had little doubt himself that it would make their task easier for the reporters, but, on the other hand, he did not think it would be a good practice. It would take up a great deal of the floor of the House, and if the advice of the hon. Gentleman opposite, who was gifted with a fine powerful voice, was followed and Members did not drop their voices, the reporters would be able to hear them almost if not quite as well as if they were on the floor of the House. For the sake of their health, he thought they would be better in the Gallery than on the floor, because only a few moments ago there was a most horrible smell. He thought he was out of order, but he wished to communicate the fact to the First Commissioner of Works. With regard to the printing, he quite thought that the Government had taken the right course, because the cost of setting up and establishing a printing office, with all the machinery and the details of staff and accessories would have been enormous; it was far better to put that out to contract. It was quite different from having their own reporters, a proposal of which he thoroughly approved. He was glad to be able to say that he thoroughly agreed 1389 with the proposals of the Government, and he would only ask when it was contemplated to initiate these proposals. The hon. Gentleman did not say, but he thought he told them that he could give six months notice in June. The hon. Gentleman had said something about the contract being determinable at six months notice, therefore he presumed it would not be possible to arrange with the contractors to terminate the contract before the end of the year, but he thought if they could have the new procedure at work during the autumn session it would be a great advantage. If the hon. Gentleman could arrange that he thought the sense of all Members of the House would be in favour of asking for it. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would think over the few remarks he had made with regard to reporting the proceedings of Standing Committees. It occurred to him as well as to his hon. friend behind him that they might have moved a reduction of this Vote to call attention to that omission, but the proposals of the Government were so good that he thought it would be a pity to do anything of the kind, and that they should content themselves with a request to the Government to consider what would in his opinion be a great reform. This proposal was the beginning of a new era on the part of the Government, and in conclusion he could only say that ho hoped all their future proposals would be as sensible as this.
§ *MR. W. BENN (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
drew attention to the fact that in the original contract for the reporting of the Debates, it was not only enjoined that the Committees in either House should be reported, but that they should be reported at no less length than the other discussions. Therefore, in as much as Bills which under the former procedure of the House would have been debated in a Committee of the Whole House, were now remitted to one of the Grand Committees, there seemed to be very good ground for having the Committees upstairs reported. He ventured, however, to suggest that this was not a suitable opportunity for the Government to do its own printing. He himself was 1390 the only Member of this House who was a Member of the Inter-Departmental Committee which went fully into this question of printing. Whilst that Committee came to the conclusion that the system that existed at present of departmental presses might be extended, they were not of opinion that "book work" could be profitably undertaken directly by the Government. Their view was that the best way to start was further to increase and extend the departmental presses and subsequently to consider whether it would be wise to put up a bigger printing shop to do "book work" The hon. Member had raised the question of the employment of the reporters all the year round, but this argument applied much more strongly to the printing shop. If a shop was set up for the printing of the Debates, what was to become of the people employed in it during that part of the year when the House was not sitting? Of course it might be said that they could be given work from other Government Departments, but the Committee of which he was a Member came to the conclusion that the safer way to increase direct Government printing was to extend the departmental presses. Economy resulted because the cost of the departmental printing came upon the Estimates for the Department, and not upon the Estimates of the Stationery Office, which would be the case if a printing shop was set up for the Debates. In departmental printing, too, there was more exact supervision, the printing was done in the cheapest form and expensive forms of work such as might be sent to a central shop were avoided. Another strong argument against setting up a Government shop to do the Debates was the question of machinery. The machinery required would be linotype machines, which were expensive and which, if there were not enough work to keep them going during the whole year would, to use a cant phrase, "eat their heads off." Another point in favour of the printing being done by contract was that when work was given out to a contractor the contractor very often was prepared to take Government work, with regard to which there was no risk of making bad debts, at a 1391 much lower price than the Government could do it for themselves. They had machinery which they must keep going and were often willing to take work at almost cost price in order to keep their shop in full work. A further reason for giving work to a contractor was that his shop was much larger than was required for the work, and in case of sudden pressure at any time, private work might be set aside and precedence given to the Government business. In that way the Government controlled a greater amount of machinery than they could possibly set up for themselves. In making these remarks he must not be taken to say that he was against an increase in direct Government printing; the Savings Bank did, and the Post Office might do, a great deal of work at a great saving, but he was certainly opposed at present to setting up a Government shop for the purpose of printing the Debates.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
I am very much indebted to the committee for the kindness with which they have received the proposal I have submitted to them, and I hope I may be permitted to make clear the few points that have been raised by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Let me first of all correct, if I may, an impression that seems to have fixed itself in the mind of one hon. gentleman, who seemed to think that my observations with regard to the Controller of the Stationery Office had a personal character. That is not the ease. I was only alluding to the particular megalomania which seems to affect all these Gentlemen. All come to me and try to persuade me that their office is the most important in the State, and is most deserving of pecuniary assistance, and the Controller of the Stationery Office very naturally and very properly takes the same attitude. With regard to the delivery of the Debates at four o'clock, which point was raised, I think, by the hon. Member for Northumberland and many others, the reason for fixing four o'clock in the afternoon as the time at which reports of speeches made on the previous day are to be delivered was not merely one of economy, although there is a slight economy in it. There is a more practical and better reason than that. In the first place, 1392 there will, I admit, be a small saving, but putting that on one side the real reason will be found if hon. Members will look at Paragraph 9 of the Committee's Report. They will see that it is recommended there that the delivery shall be accompanied with the delivery of the Votes and Proceedings, and all those formal records which do not include speeches made in the House. Any attempt to combine the printing of the Votes and Proceedings and the Reports of the Proceedings in this House with the speeches delivered in this House will require large administrative changes, which it will be quite impossible to combine with the change we are now undertaking, and it is because I do not wish to be stopped in the undertaking we are now putting before you that I ask that the reports of the speeches should be delivered at four o'clock instead of at ten in the morning. We are not prepared to amalgamate the system now settled as to the printing of the Debates and Votes and Proceedings. We do not wish to have any check put upon the prosperity of the immediate future by combining these two functions. It is because we are making an experiment that I ask the Committee to agree, at all events for the present, in allowing me to deliver the report of the speeches in the Vote Office at four o'clock.
§ MR. ARTHUR LEE
I think neither I nor hon. Members who spoke upon the subject committed ourselves to the suggestion that the reports of speeches should be incorporated with the official Papers. All we asked was that they should be ready at ten in the morning, and be delivered with the Votes and Proceedings.
§ MR. CHARLES ALLEN
The Committee does not recommend the joining of these Reports and Proceedings with the Debates. They say that should be the subject of further inquiry.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
An hon. friend of mine reminds me that the Votes and Proceedings are not delivered at ten but eight o'clock, which only shows the 1393 difficulty of making arrangements. I want to go further. I should like to see these two operations combined. The Government are now making an experiment which I believe will be for the benefit of the House, and I hope no impediment will be put in their path by hon. Members asking us to pursue a course which we are not ready to adopt. Therefore I hope the Committee will be content with the concessions we make to them.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
asked whether it was intended as at present that the daily parts would be in the Vote Office for those who applied for them, and whether if an hon. Member applied for a daily part he would be precluded from receiving in the ordinary course the bound volume which he now had. At present he could not get both.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not press me for these details. I agree it is a very important point. I have not been a sufficiently long time in my office, however, to enable me to determine all these questions. I have made myself acquainted with the leading principles of the matter, but I have not yet had time to go into all the details.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said he was extremely reluctant to give the hon. Gentleman any annoyance, but he wished to point out that at the present time, as everybody knew, a Member received a proof of the speech he had delivered. He had an opportunity of reading it, and seeing whether it was right or wrong. He corrected it if he was not satisfied with it, sent it to the printer, and waited for the bound volumes. But under this system he got no proof at all, and if he wanted to see whether the report of his speech was accurate he had to go for it to the office. If he got the daily part as he now got the proof, would that preclude him from getting the bound volumes?
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
May I point out that by the scheme shown in Paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Report the delivery of the bound volumes is included.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
Yes; that is practically the estimate on which I have based my calculations. I hope that is a satisfactory answer to the hon. Gentleman. An hon. Member will not have to call at the office for the proof of his speech; it will be forwarded to him. But all these are questions which I hope I may be able to settle satisfactorily hereafter, and I ask the Committee not to press me for the moment, though I shall be only too glad to listen to representations on the subject from any quarter of the House. With regard to the position of the reporters in the Gallery, that is a question which I think has been raised by various Members. The Gallery, as the Committee is well aware, is under the control of the Speaker, and I am very loth to say anything in this House which would impinge on his authority; but it will be perfectly easy, I am assured, to make such arrangements in the Gallery that two seats will be reserved for the official reporters, and that these seats will be in the centre of the Gallery and next to one another, but I cannot pledge myself to anything more definite than that. I may add that there will be no attempt, and we have no desire to make any attempt of any sort or kind, to interfere with the almost traditional privileges of The Times, to the accuracy of whose reporting every Member of the House testifies. With regard to a reporter on the floor of the House, I would like to point out to the Committee that there are substantial differences of opinion amongst the members of the Press Gallery as to the difficulty of reporting in the House. If the Committee will turn to Question 360 in the Report, it will find there that the official reporters receive frequent expressions of approval as to the way in which the reports are now done. That does not look as if there were any very grievous difficulty in hearing what is said in the House. Then again it is said, in the answer to Question 1178, by one of the members of the reporting staff, that a perfectly satisfactory report can be given from the Gallery. It is certain that one of the reasons of having the reporters on the floor in the House of Lords is the extraordinarily bad acoustic properties of that Chamber, and the practice of having 1395 the reporter on the floor of the House entails his taking a much longer turn than that to which the reporter is subject in the Press Gallery of the House of Commons. It has been said that such an arrangement would be repugnant to the two Front Benches, and there is a very strong expression of opinion by the Leader of the Opposition, who views with dislike any such proposal. There are other persons of importance to consider as well as the occupants of the two Front Benches, and these are the authorities, and the evidence is pretty conclusive that they would view with deep repugnance any proposal to alter the present arrangements. I think it was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield who raised the question as to whether reporters are to be solely at the service of the House. That, of course, raises the question whether they are to receive a weekly or an annual salary. If they are to receive an annual salary their exclusive services would he retained for the whole year, and it is quite clear that they could be required not to do other work. It they are to be regarded as weekly employees—I will not say weekly employees—but if they are to he regarded as sessional employees and paid weekly wages during the session, I think that it is quite fair that they should be allowed to add to their earnings.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY
pointed out that it was possible under the present system for the reporter to make his official report also serve the purposes of a newspaper published next morning.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
I do not think that could possibly be allowed for a moment. So long as the report is a House report that report should be for the purposes of the House alone and for no other purpose whatever. It is to meet that point that we propose a salary of eight guineas a week. Let me point out to the Committee, who may not be familiar with the conditions of the reporters upstairs, that owing to pressure of work the reporters have now to dictate their notes to other persons.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
It costs them about ten shillings or a pound a week to do that. We remove that necessity and that expense from them. With the substantial increase of wage which we propose to give them we remove also the various items of expenditure which form a very considerable part of the weekly outlay. I think that, in view of these double advantages which we propose to give to the reporting staff, it is not necessary to make their engagement an annual one. But, on the other hand, I think that it ought to be clearly understood that the employment continues from session to session, subject of course to the usual conditions of efficiency and character.
§ MR. BOWERMAN
May I be permitted to point out that if we retained the services of the reporters only for the session and then discharged them, they would be thrown out of employment in the slackest period of the year, and placed at a very great disadvantage.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
That is not the information that reaches me. I made some inquiry to inform myself, before I came to the House, as to what course should be taken, and I am told that there is no such serious difficulty as is anticipated, having regard to the class of reporter that we ought to find it necessary to employ. No doubt a second or third-rate man might find that difficulty but the first-rate man we propose to employ I think would have no such difficulty. Such, at all events, is my information. With regard to reporting the Standing Committees, I think that is the last point. I personally, from such experience as I have had in serving on those Committees, must confess that if I were a non-official Member of this House I should be very loth to see reporting adopted in Standing Committees, because it might destroy the whole scope and character of Committee work. As a member of the Government, speaking here on their behalf, I must make it perfectly clear to the House that the Government cannot accept the proposal to report the work done or the speeches made in Standing Committees. As I understand, at the present moment the Chairman of a Standing Committee has it perfectly 1397 within his power, and he very frequently does it, to direct the Clerk of the Committee to keep a record of all that is done, not all that is said, but all that is done in Standing Committee—the Amendments moved, the rulings given, and the action taken during the session of the Committee. That is now within his power, and any amplification of that, if he desires it, lies entirely at his own discretion, and within his own power. Such at least I am informed is the power of the Chairman of Standing Committee. That is I think all that is necessary in regard to the business done upstairs. To report what is said in Standing Committee would, I venture to think, be an obstruction of the whole of the work of that Committee. I think that the natural tendency of Members of this House to explain at length the reasons which move them to oppose or to favour a proposal is not always desirable in Committee. A practical man in Committee should say in the fewest possible words the course which he thinks ought to be taken on a Bill. That rule is not always observed in this House, and I think it very regrettable that it is not always observed upstairs. To report the proceedings of Standing Committee I think would increase the tendency to deliver speeches. Hon. Gentlemen may differ from me, but I think, at all events, that it would make a fundamental change in the character of Standing Committee if the Government proposed to adopt reporting. With regard to the time at which this proposal will come into operation, we must give six months' notice to the present contractor, and we cannot give that notice before June—I forget the exact date. Therefore it is quite clear that this cannot come into operation until the session after the autumn sitting. There is one point more as to the time at which this must come into operation. We must engage our reporters before 1st July. I understand that it is a custom in the trade, if I may use that expression, that reporters are engaged six months in advance, and if we want to get reporters to come into our service on 1st January next we must engage them before 1st July this year. That being so, we must begin to make our arrangements on that basis. I hope that I have answered such points 1398 as have been put to me, and that the Committee will now come to a decision.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
said he was very much disappointed that the Secretary to the Treasury should have taken up a non possumus attitude to every suggestion made on either side of the House with regard to the amendment of the proposed changes, and he was more especially disappointed with reference to the reporting of Standing Committees. They had heard what was said by the Member for Northumberland about that, and the Secretary to the Treasury had practically used the same words, that the reporting of the proceedings in Standing Committees would tend to an alteration of the work done in them, and decrease their usefulness. He did not see on what that was founded or that the reason was at all adequate. But granting that that was the case, the point made by the hon. Member for Ashford had not been met at all, that it would be of the greatest advantage to Chairmen of the future of the rulings of the Chair were recorded. Then there was another point as to the number of times the closure had been put in Standing Committees. Then again there was the point of the pledges given by the Government, and on that most important point the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London had pointed to the case of the Scottish Bill of last year, a Bill of a complicated nature, which was considered for an enormous number of sittings during which a large number of pledges were given by the Government. With all the goodwill in the world it was impossible for them to be sure at the end of the time what pledges they had given and what they had not. It would be a very good thing, as these things were so important, that they should have some weight with the Financial Secretary. But he said in answer to the very pertinent question raised by the hon. Member for Clare as to the correcting of the speeches that he did not wish to be pressed. He did not want to press the hon. Gentleman on points of detail, but he maintained that he had met with an absolute non possumus requests put to him from all sides of the House. They had had a most amiable debate, and they were all much obliged to the Government for 1399 the way in which they proposed to alter the system of reporting, but he confessed, when it came to a question of allowing him to have a report of his hon. friends' speeches at nine o'clock in the morning, he trusted the Government would not give way. He thought on the question of reporting in Standing Committees the Government would do well to consider it. They had not even told them what the amount of money required would be. Was it on the question of money that the Government refused to give way, or was it on a question of principle?
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
I thought I explained perfectly clearly that in the judgment of the Government the whole character of the work done in the Committee would be changed. I did not dwell on the financial aspect of the case. As a matter of fact it would increase the cost by at least 50 per cent., probably by something like 75 per cent.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD
said he had no doubt it would, but in what way would it alter the character of the debates? Did the hon. Gentleman mean to say that Members were so vain that they would alter the whole tenour of their remarks if they thought they were to be reported? The generality of men who served on Committees were the best working men in the House. The Secretary to the Treasury evidently had come down prepared to resist this demand, put his feet on the ground and his ears back and would not listen to anything they said. Perhaps the Prime Minister with the courtesy that he would assume with the new place that, he had taken—he must remember that he was leading the House' and must consult the feelings of everybody in the House—would consider that they were justified in asking that the proceedings in Standing Committees might be published, not in extenso, but with the rulings of the Chair, the number of tunes the closure was given, and speeches of Ministers of the Crown. The House would regard that as a great concession.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. ASQUITH,) Fifeshire, E.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has paid me rather a back-handed compliment, but I will do 1400 my best to acknowledge it by at once rising to tell him I entirely agree with the Secretary to the Treasury upon this point as to the reporting in the Standing Committees. The financial argument is not altogether to be neglected or despised. It would double the cost of the whole operation. But that is not the point. I agree with him that it, would transform and I think transform for the worse the character of our deliberations in Standing Committees if reports of the speeches were printed and circulated verbatim every day.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD
I did not ask for a verbatim, but for a fairly full report, especially of the remarks of Ministers.
§ MR. ASQUITH
The obiter dicta of Ministers in Standing Committee are much better forgotten altogether. Really quite seriously I think it is of the greatest possible importance that our Committee procedure should be as elastic and informal as it is at present. I do not say that Members are vain, but, human nature being what it is and the effect of reporting a man's thoughts and expressions being what we know it to be, I am satisfied that if we once introduce the system a great deal of the informality and business-like despatch would gradually disappear. I hope the Committee will agree with the Government that we should confine our operations to what takes place on the floor of the House.
§ MR. THEODORE TAYLOR (Lancashire, Radcliffe)
pressed on the Government the importance of having the report in the hands of Members earlier than four o'clock in the afternoon. There was no reason, as Members of the Committee knew, why it should not be ready by nine or ten o'clock in the morning. The impression the evidence created on his mind was that they could very well have it at eight o'clock in the morning. If The Times could have their full report printed at two o'clock in the morning and circulated all over the provinces at eight o'clock, they should be able to have their report printed in the neighbourhood of the House before four o'clock in the afternoon. 1401 Just imagine a newspaper saying they could not get a report before four o'clock. The Secretary to the Treasury had not given them a single reason why it should not be done, and it was worth ever so much more to every Member to have the report on his breakfast-table than to have it at four o'clock in the afternoon. A Member wanted to read his own report and correct it. Why should he not have it before he started off to business for the day? It would be worth the extra cost, which would not amount to much. As to the terms on which the official reporters were to be engaged, there was some proposal he understood to pay a yearly salary instead of a fixed weekly wage, making the salary rather less because they would not be at work the whole of the year. One important consideration brought before the Committee had not been mentioned, and that was the difference in the length of the sessions. In 1905, there were eleven volumes of Hansard, and in 1906 there were seventeen. Were they going to pay the men the same for the seventeen volumes as for the eleven? They must pay according to the amount of work done, and less for a short session than for a long one. He understood that their recommendation was to leave these gentlemen at liberty to do other work in the other part of the year. Something had been said about finding them work in some Government Department. But a good reporter was not going to take secretarial work or manuscript work in a Government Department. He would much prefer to take his chance of other work in his own line during the recess than to be a kind of Government hack.
§ *MR. STUART WORTLEY
Whether it is because the Prime Minister has joined the debate at rather a late stage or whether it is due to the attitude of the position which his old college friends delight to see him occupying, I am afraid he has not shown us that he has yet quite penetrated to the springs of human nature. What are the causes of prolixity? One is the desire for self-advertisement, and the other is the desire to consume time—the political consumption of time. The existence of an official report would play upon neither 1402 of these motives. The fundamental mistake, if I may respectfully say so, that he has made is to confuse the nature and effect of an official report with that of a newspaper report. I do not think the existence of an official report would lead Members either to consume time or to talk for the purpose of self-advertisement either more or less than at present, and if the Government in refusing an official report of the proceedings of the Standing Committee are relying upon the inherent powers of the Chairman to secure a greater or less amount of fulness or accuracy in the official record of decisions, I think they are making a mistake, and perhaps in the end they will arrive at a reform of the kind we are advocating, and the gentlemen who fill the office of clerks in the House will have to add to their qualifications the power to write shorthand. You cannot report the rulings of the Chair without some such auxiliary as that. With regard to the hour of the day at which this official report should be forthcoming I might give the House an interesting experience. I do not know if the Prime Minister remembers Mr. Shield, a Q.C., who was attached to the north-eastern circuit. In my very early years in Parliament the newspapers used to leave London at 5.15 in the morning, and Mr. Shield and I used to take that train sometimes to Leads. I remember Mr. Shield one evening making a speech with which he was very pleased, and after a division had been taken at a late hour we met each other at King's Cross thus early on the following morning. He had The Times in his hand and said: "They have not given me a bad report, after all." That shows what can be done when a really great enterprise puts its back into its work. I hope in some form or other the Government will give us some better report of the proceedings of the Standing Committees.
§ *MR. SUMMERBELL (Sunderland)
thought the official reporting staff ought to be paid an annual salary. It would be a great mistake to have sessional servants, and it would be worth paying extra to have them annual servants, because the Government would then get better men. It was claimed that 1403 the proposed change would tend to considerable improvement so far as the reports were concerned. Instead of having one-third of the speeches reported they were going to have full reports, and it was proposed to pay the increased staff one guinea per week more, and yet they had been solemnly assured that the cost was going to be the same as it was before the change. He was afraid that he could not swallow those figures. It was a most extraordinary statement, and he ventured to think the cost would come out much higher. The great benefit that would take place all round by doing away with the contractor and doing the work themselves had been pointed out. It was true that the Committee did not recommend a printing department, but they expressed themselves as favourable to it. The cost of establishing a printing department had been put at the alarming sum of £225,000. The Secretary to the Treasury said that the Committee were advised by only one official. He was extremely sorry, after the very glowing report with regard to the reforms that were going to take place, that the hon. Gentleman had not gone further and definitely recommended that the whole of this printing should be done in a Government printing office. If the Government took that matter up along with the reporting they would save an immense sum of money every year. With regard to full reports he thought it was going to extremes and much less than that would do. What was needed was restriction, not only in the number of corrections, but also in the duration of hon. Members' speeches.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said that his suggestion was for reports of speeches of members of the Government in charge of Bills in a Standing Committee, so that any pledges given by them might be recorded. Did the Prime Minister agree with that? If the right hon. Gentleman had attended the Scottish Committee he would be aware that the members of the Government in charge of the Bill gave a great number of pledges and there was no record kept of them. It was very important in the case of big Bills that a record 1404 should be kept. Did the Prime Minister think that the members of his Government, were likely to be actuated by any feeling of vanity as to their speeches being reported? He was not asking that the speeches of the ordinary private Member on these Committees should be reported, but he attached great importance to the speeches of Ministers in charge of the Bills. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite would agree that their pledges should be adhered to, and there should be some means of knowing what they had said. As to the cost, in Paragraph 17 it was set forth—Your Committee having considered the subject desire to point out that a small addition would be all that would be necessary to enable the proposed stall of reporters to supply a full summary of the proceedings of the Standing Committee.What he suggested would cost very little, and it was reasonable and necessary if the proceedings of the Grand Committees were to be carried on in a proper manner. If it was the desire of the Government that nobody should know what went on upstairs then he could understand the opposition to this proposal.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said that that would be the making of an invidious distinction among the different members attending a Standing Committee. As far as his experience went he had found that Ministers who made pledges of any kind were always carefully reminded of them when the proceedings reached the Report stage in the House. He had also found that the hon. Baronet possessed a wonderful memory for pledges, and the assiduity shown by him to remind Ministers of them hardly made it necessary to provide an additional reporter. Besides the public necessity had already provided for what the hon. Baronet desired without any expense at all to the State. The proceedings of the Scottish Grand Committee were reported with the greatest minuteness, indeed almost verbatim, in the Scotsman, because the subject was of much interest to the people of Scotland. Any Bill of great public importance would always secure an adequate record of the proceedings connected with it in the public Press, and this was found 1405 to be the case in respect of the proceedings in Standing Committee. He thought that by way of experiment it was desirable to confine their efforts to the House itself and to the more modest proposal suggested by the Government.
§ *MR. MORTON (Sutherland)
regretted that the Prime Minister had put his foot clown so firmly against reporting the proceedings of the Grand Committees, because it was quite as necessary to report them as it was to report the Committee proceedings of the Whole House. Standing Committees had now taken the place of the Committee of the Whole House, and all their Bills, after the Second Reading, were now sent up to a Standing Committee unless the House determined otherwise by vote. His experience of the Scottish Grand Committee was entirely in favour of having an official report. It was quite impossible to remember what had been said previously, and it was essential that they should be able to refresh their memory as to what had occurred in the previous debates. He did not think it would cost a large sum of money. This was not the first time the House had considered the reporting of their Parliamentary proceedings. In the year 1893 he got a Committee appointed and they reported very much in favour of what was now proposed. They did not require a verbatim report; many of them would not like to see a verbatim report of their speeches. On the occasion of the inquiry in 1893 they came to the conclusion that there ought to he a fair report taken and that all Members should be treated alike. They should have a good and fair report or none at all. Difficulties arose with regard to reporting one-third of their speeches, because it was possible that the third reported hon. Members would prefer should not be reported, but that some other third should be. He was glad the Government had come to the conclusion that after this session they would have a fair report. He hoped the Prime Minister would reconsider his decision in regard to Standing Committees. The Members of the Government were always well reported and need not trouble, but in the case of private Members like himself, 1406 they felt that their constituents desired to see reports of the speeches of their representatives in order that they should know what their. Members were doing. That particularly applied in his own case. His constituency was 700 miles away, and they could not afford the time or the money to come and hear the proceedings in Parliament, but they were, nevertheless, anxious to know what he was doing, how he voted, and what he said. He was not afraid of them knowing, and they could only know by being supplied with a fair and proper report.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 2. £405,212, to complete the sum for Stationery and Printing.