HC Deb 13 March 1912 vol 35 cc1176-85

Resolution reported, "That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £47,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1912, for Stationery, Printing, Paper, Binding, and Printed Books for the Public Service; for the Salaries and Expenses of the Stationery Office; and for sundry Miscellaneous Services, including Reports of Parliamentary Debates."

Resolution read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."


I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £2,000.

I move this Amendment because I think the explanations the hon. Gentleman gave to the Committee were far from satisfactory. We have an increase on the paper for public Departments. The original Estimate was £250,000, and it has increased to £282,000, or an addition of £32,000, which is an enormous increase. Then we have a large increase for binding, and a still further increase for books for public Departments. Again, we have an increase for miscellaneous small stores for public Departments. If we look at the footnote, we find the whole of these subheads are additional amounts required to meet certain liabilities in respect of the Debates and Records owing to the unforeseen length of the Session of 1911, for the Department administering the Insurance Act, and for the increased price paid for paper. I know what the hon. Gentleman will say. He will say, I have carefully avoided the footnote which alludes to the Admiralty and the War Office. When we pressed the hon. Gentleman, we found only a very small portion of the increase was required for the Admiralty and the War Office, and he was quite at sea to account for the difference between the amount required for maps for the Admiralty and the War Office and the rest. He told us it must be for maps for administering the Insurance Act, and, when we pointed out that that Act, with all its difficulties, could not possibly be required to be administered with maps, he took advantage of the fact that the Debate had gone on for some time, and he made no reply at all. I admit the great difficulty which must present itself to any man filling the place now occupied by the hon. Gentleman, but he knows the questions which were asked in Committee and which were not answered, and he must therefore have come down prepared to answer them now. I want to know, after subtracting the amount due for maps and books for public Departments, what has happened to the rest of this additional sum of £2,000. The next matter is Item J, which is increased by £6,500, an increase of something like 9 per cent, on the original estimate. That increase is again alleged to be due to the length of the Session and the administration of the Insurance Act. But how could the cost of the supply of miscellaneous small stores for public Departments have increased because this House sat a long time? We do not have any such small stores here, and I should like to know what small stores were purchased to the extent of £6,500, and where. I see the cost of paper shows an enormous increase. It would appear almost impossible that the actual increase in the cost of making paper should have been so great as 12 per cent, on a gross total of £250,000. I think we ought to have some further explanation of that, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will be able to give me a satisfactory reply to the questions I have put, as, otherwise, I am afraid I shall not be able to listen to the blandishments of hon. Gentlemen and refuse to divide.


I take this opportunity of asking an explanation of one or two items on this Vote, especially in regard to the Parliamentary Debates and Records. Those hon. Gentlemen who happened to be here when the Committee was sitting, will remember that we had some discussion on this point, and certain explanations were proffered by the hon. Gentleman. The original Estimate was £7,500. The revised Estimate is £12,000, and that is described as being due to the Autumn Session. The hon. Gentleman, who was new to his office, explained, on the 26th February, that the whole of these payments were for printing, paper, indexing, and otherwise preparing and printing the Parliamentary records. He added that the original Estimate in 1907 was for an average Parliamentary year of 120 days, and on that basis the Estimates have been prepared ever since. To that 120 days a certain number of days and nights have to be added, and, therefore, the amount of the Vote has gone up automatically. That explanation was accepted as satisfactory at the time, but investigations have shown that it is not so. The explanation amounted to this: 120 days was the estimate of a normal Session. Last session covered 172 days, but the rate of increase is far greater than it ought to have been in proportion, for whereas a normal Session of 120 days was estimated to cost £7,500, being at the rate of £62 10s. per day, the additional fifty-two days cost no less than £4,500, or at the rate of £86 10s. per day. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman's first explanation does not appear to hold water.

It may be said that the Autumn Session was unusually arduous, that the days on which we sat were very long, and that there were also a number of night sittings. I regret to find on investigation that that explanation also is not satisfactory. I have had the figures taken out and even reckoning by the amount of printing done the increase is not justified. The reports of the Summer Session are contained in nine volumes, with 19,544 columns, at a cost of £7,500, or 7s. 6d. per column. The autumn reports are con-contained in three volumes with 6,548 columns, at a cost of £4,500, or an average of 13s. 8¾d. per column. There surely must be some other explanation which we have not yet had from the hon. Gentleman. He did certainly suggest that part of the extra cost might be accounted for by the fact that the proceedings in the Standing Committee upstairs on the unemployment part of the Insurance Bill were printed and reported along with the Parliamentary Debates. I have had those figures investigated as well, and I find that, including the reports of those debates upstairs, which were contained in 484 columns, the total amount of the Autumn Session was 7,032 columns, at the rate of 12s. 6d. per column, as against 7s. 6d. per column, which was the cost in the earlier part of the Session. I do not know what the explanation is. I doubt very much whether the hon. Gentleman himself knows it. But I think that by this time even he must be convinced that the explanation he has given is not the whole explanation. The explanation with regard to calculation by time breaks down, because in a normal Session the cost is £62 10s. per day and in the Autumn Session £86 10s. per day. In the same way the calculation based on the quantity of printed matter equally fails, because it shows an increase in the Autumn Session of more than 50 per cent, as compared with a normal Session. I think the House is entitled to some further explanation.


The explanation I gave on the Committee stage is, I venture to assert, the true and accurate explanation of the particular items in regard to which the hon. Member appears to have taken so much trouble in investigating the figures. The amount required in order to provide for the printing, etc., of the Official Debates is purely automatic, and depends entirely on the amount of speaking that takes place in the House. I may suggest another valuable factor, and that is the greater speed at which hon. Members speak, and an hon. Gentleman who speaks with considerable fluency, like the hon. Gentleman who has just resumed his seat, costs more to the nation than a man who, like myself, speaks with some hesitancy.




Because more paper is required on which to print his speeches. I think if he will go through the actual figures he will come to the conclusion that the explanation I have given is a thoroughly satisfactory one, and possibly he will be able to induce the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London to withdraw his Amendment. The original Estimate, based on a normal Session of 120 days, with a normal amount of Debate of sixty-nine pages a day, gives a total of 8,280 pages. The Session of 1911 extended over 172 days. The daily output of speaking averaged seventy-nine pages, partly owing to the Eleven o'clock Rule being suspended and partly owing to the increased speed of speaking in this new House. Therefore, the proportionate sum works out as follows: As 8,280 is to 13,430, so 7,500 is to 12,000. The total amount required for the Session was therefore £12,000. The amount provided was £7,500, and we kept the exact proportion in asking for a Supplementary Estimate of £4,500. I hope the hon. Member will accept that as a satisfactory answer to his contention.

I now come to the questions put by the Hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London. I think he asked them all on the Committee stage, but I will run through them shortly. The first was on Item I. "Books and Maps." That is merely a general title of the sub-head. It does not mean necessarily that anything is spent on maps. I have no knowledge of any maps having been required by the Insurance Commission, but a large quantity of books was needed for that body, and the rest of the Estimate is due to the Admiralty estimate for books required, especially under the new scheme of education for seamen, which, I think, the whole Committee approved of. With regard to Item J, "Stores," I did go at some considerable length into that on the Committee stage, and I explained that this is very largely for the equipment of the offices of the Insurance Commissioners and for the provision of typwriters, calculating machines, and so on. There were also large quantities of indelible pencils provided. Then I come to the question of paper. As I explained on the Committee stage, the rise in the price of paper is due to good trade. We get paper cheap when trade is bad, because contractors are glad to take contracts in order to keep their mills going, but when trade is good they demand a higher price for the paper. Much of the demand for paper was due to the requirements of the Insurance Commission, but there is a sum of £3,000 for

the Post Office in connection with the telephone work it has just taken over. I think this is a fair answer to all the points which have been raised, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will not think it necessary to press his Amendment to a Division.

8.0 P.M.


No doubt the hon. Gentleman may have given a very satisfactory answer from his point of view, but he has not in the least answered the questions of my hon. Friend (Mr. Mitchell-Thomson), who asked why, if the printing cost 7s. 6d. per column in the summer, in the autumn it cost 12s. 6d. The hon. Gentleman has not challenged the figures or answered the question, and I hope my hon. Friends will go to a Division.

Question put, "That £47,000 stand part of the said Resolution."

The House divided: Ayes, 186; Noes, 98.

Division No. 38.] AYES. [8.0 p.m.
Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour) Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.) Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.
Acland, Francis Dyke Essex, Richard Walter Macpherson, James Ian
Adamson, William Esslemont, George Birnie MacVeagh, Jeremiah
Ainsworth, John Stirling Farrell, James Patrick M'Callum, John M.
Alden, Percy Ffrench, Peter McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald
Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud) Flavin, Michael Joseph M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)
Armitage, Robert Gelder, Sir W. A. Marks, Sir George Croydon
Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A. Gill, Alfred Henry Marshall, Arthur Harold
Baker, Harold T (Accrington) Gladstone, W. G. C. Masterman, C. F. G.
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Glanville, Harold James Meagher, Michael
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)
Barnes, G. N. Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough) Menzies, Sir Walter
Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.) Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland) Middlebrook, William
Beale, William Phipson Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.) Millar, James Duncan
Benn, W. (T. H'mts., St. George) Hackett, John Mond, Sir Alfred
Bentham, George J. Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton) Morton, Alpheus Cleophas
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Harcourt Robert V. (Montrose) Munro, Robert
Boland, John Pius Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) Neilson, Francis
Booth, Frederick Handel Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)
Brace, William Hayden, John Patrick Nolan, Joseph
Brady, Patrick Joseph Hayward, Evan Norton, Captain Cecil William
Brocklehurst, William B. Helme, Norval Watson Nuttall, Harry
Brunner, John F. L. Henderson, Arthur (Durham) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Bryce, John Annan Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Higham, John Sharp O'Doherty, Philip
Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich) Hodge, John O'Grady, James
Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood) Holmes, Daniel Turner O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)
Chapple, Dr. William Allen Holt, Richard Durning O'Sullivan, Timothy
Clancy, John Joseph Hope, John Deans (Haddington) Palmer, Godfrey Mark
Clough, William Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich) Parker, James (Halifax)
Clynes, John R. Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Hughes, Spencer Leigh Phillips, John (Longford, S.)
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. John, Edward Thomas Pirie, Duncan V.
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Johnson, William Pointer, Joseph
Crooks, William Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)
Crumley, Patrick Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Radford, G. H.
Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Jowett, Frederick William Raphael, Sir Herbert Henry
Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Joyce, Michael Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Kellaway, Frederick George Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)
De Forest, Baron Kilbride, Denis Rendall, Atheistan
Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Lamb, Ernest Henry Richards, Thomas
Dillon, John Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)
Donelan, Captain A. Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Doris, William Leach, Charles Roberts, George (Norwich)
Duffy, William J. Levy, Sir Maurice Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Lewis, John Herbert Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley) Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich) Roche, Augustine (Louth)
Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Rowlands, James
Elverston, Sir Harold Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W. Tennant, Harold John Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees) Thomas, James Henry (Derby) Wiles, Thomas
Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B. Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton) Wilkie, Alexander
Sheehy, David Thorne, William (West Ham) Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)
Sherwell, Arthur James Verney, Sir H. Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)
Shortt, Edward Walton, Sir Joseph Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)
Simon, Sir John Allsebrook Wardle, G. J. Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe) Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan) Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)
Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney) Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)
Stanley, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe) Watt, Henry A. Young, William (Perth, East)
Sutherland, John E. Webb, H. Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Sutton, John E. White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Taylor, John W. (Durham) White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.
Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe) Whitehouse, John Howard
Aitken, Sir William Max Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)
Ashley, Wilfrid W. Fleming, Valentine Paget, Almeric Hugh
Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead) Peto, Basil Edward
Balcarres, Lord Forster, Henry William Quilter, Sir William Eley C.
Baldwin, Stanley Glimour, Captain John Rawson, Col. Richard H.
Barlow, Montague (Salford, South) Glazebrook, Capt. Philip K. Remnant, James Farquharson
Bathurst, Hon. Allen B. (Glouc, E.) Gouiding, Edward Alfred Ronaldshay, Earl of
Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward Rothschild, Lionel de
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Hambro, Angus Valde[...]ar Salter, Arthur Clavell
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington) Sanders, Robert A.
Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich) Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire) Sanderson, Lancelot
Bennett-Goldney, Francis Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.) Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)
Bigland, Alfred Hewins, William Albert Samuel Smith, Harold (Warrington)
Bird, Alfred Hickman, Colonel Thomas E. Starkey, John Ralph
Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue Hills, John Waller Steel-Maitland, A. D.
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith- Hill-Wood, Samuel Stewart, Gershom
Boyton, James Hoare, Samuel John Gurney Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)
Bridgeman, William Clive Hope, Harry (Bute) Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)
Burn, Col. C. R. Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Talbot, Lord Edmund
Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.) Hunt, Rowland Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)
Campion, W. R. Ingleby, Holcombe Tryon, Capt. George Clement
Cassel, Felix Jessel, Captain H. M. Valentia, Viscount
Castlereagh, Viscount Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)
Cave, George Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Wolmer, Viscount
Courthope, George Loyd Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford Wood, Hon. E F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)
Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.) Lane-Fox, G. R. Wood, John Stalybridge
Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) Lewisham, Viscount Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Craik, Sir Henry Lloyd, G. A. Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Croft, Henry Page M'Mordie, Robert Yate, Col. C. E.
Dalrymple, Viscount Magnus, Sir Philip Yerburgh, Robert
Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. S. Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas
Doughty, Sir George Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir F. Banbury and Mr. Mitchell-Thomson.
Eyres-Monsell, B. M. Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)
Fell, Arthur Newton, Harry Kottingham

Original Question again proposed.


I could not help feeling that the suggestion that the increased volubility of speakers had occasioned a large portion of this Vote was so far-fetched tha[...] I had the greatest pleasure in voting for the Amendment. The increase really turns on the Autumn Session, and not on the price of paper. The question is whether the Government could not have foreseen that Autumn Session when they prepared their Estimates. They could have calculated the number of days approximately required for the lengthy programme they brought forward, and could have made their Estimate of this Vote accordingly. If Members did talk quicker, that only accounts for a portion of the increase, and it does not account for the fact that the Government did not foresee, when they made their Estimates, that additional cost would be thrown upon the Stationery Office through the Autumn

Session. I hope that this will be a warning to them, and that they will in future cut their coat according to their cloth, so that they may make their arrangements with more accuracy. I should like to ask one question with regard to the stationery Is there not a large quantity of old stationary sold and pulped? I think that is included in the Appropriation-in-Aid, but I do not see any reference to it here. I should like to have some explanation of that. There must be some contract to buy all the old paper which we see destroyed every day, and the quantity of it must be augmented by the long sittings. We have had no explanation on that subject. We have to test the items on the debit side, and we ought also to test the items on the credit side, in order to see whether the Government are making proper allowance for what must be a credit. I do not know whether £2,000 was the sum saved by this means. I hope the Government will take that into account when they are framing their Estimates, so that this time next year the hon. Gentleman will not come to us with explanations which are made on the spur of the moment, or tell us again that the increased rapidity of speakers occasions the demand upon us for further sums of money. I hope that in any circumstances we shall not be met on the Report stage, when full information should be given—

And, it being Quarter-past Eight, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means, under Standing Order No. 8, further proceeding was postponed.