§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £569,272, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1915, 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." [Note.—£500,000 has been voted on account.]
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
It may be for the convenience of the Committee to ask your ruling, Mr. Whitley, upon a point of Order. I had intended to draw attention.
1137 to inaccuracy in the Report of the House of Lords Debate, but with great kindness and courtesy—for which I am extremely indebted to you—you have privately called my attention to the fact that this matter arises more properly on another Motion. May I ask you, therefore, whether it is your ruling that the question of editing the Parliamentary Reports does not arise upon this Vote, but upon an earlier Vote in the same class of Estimates—Class I., I think—and, if so, whether upon this Vote it would be in order to draw attention to any mistake in the Report or any improper correction in the Report, or whether it would not be obligatory upon me, and other Members interested, to raise the matter on the earlier Vote when it is put down?
§ The CHAIRMAN
If the Noble Lord will look at the Vote set down for to-day, Vote 24, Item N, he will find that that applies solely to printing, binding, and delivering the copies of the Debates, and that the money for reporting and editing the, Reports appears on Vote 1 of Class II., under the heading (c), almost the last item on page 5 of the Class. Therefore, it is, as I informed the Noble Lord just now, on that Vote that any matter referring to that sum of money ought to be raised.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
On the point of Order, may I ask if it is not competent for an hon. Member to argue that a sum of money should not be voted by the House for a service which is imperfect, and then to cite an illustration of that fact, such as the misprinting or the misediting of some passage on the ground that proper value has not been obtained for the Vote, and to move a reduction upon that ground? And in the second place, might I ask if it is necessary to move a reduction on a Vote on which the topic most properly arises? Cannot it be moved on any Vote to which that is relevant?
§ The CHAIRMAN
As I pointed out to the Noble Lord, the point which he intimated that he wished to raise would be very largely mutilated on this Vote, and he agreed it would be better to raise it upon the other Vote when it is put down. The hon. Member is correct to this extent, that this Vote has reference to the printing, but the printer must print what copy he receives, and therefore no blame can attach to him.
§ Mr. J. HOPE
On a point of more general interest might I ask, if a certain topic is relevant to some one Vote, whether it must be raised on the one Vote that you consider most suitable, and cannot be raised on any other Vote to which it is relevant, if you think that it would be more in order and more properly raised upon another Vote?
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is rather a hypothetical question, which does not now arise. In this case it is quite clear what the Noble Lord desired would be practically impossible on this Vote, and he will at least have a much better opportunity on Vote 1.
§ Mr. JAMES HOGGE
There are a considerable number of items in these Estimates upon which I think it is desirable that the Committee should be furnished with some information before we agree to" the expenditure of £1,060,000. Some of these items affect the conditions of persons in the Department of the Secretary to the Treasury, which I think it is worth while bringing before the Committee at the commencement of my remarks. I should like to draw the attention of the-Minister in charge of these Estimates to an item in the establishment charges for female typists. The wages paid for female typists are set out at a minimum of 20s. a week and a maximum rising to 26s. I should like to know from the hon. Gentleman how many hours these female typists are called upon to work, what are-the ages of the girls employed, and how their remuneration compares with the remuneration in other business firms? I should also like to direct his attention to the wages paid to charwomen as set out on page 117. There are several charwomen mentioned, and I notice that some of them have rather miserable wages. One gets 16s. 6d., six get 14s., one gets 12s., and two get 10s. I want the hon. Gentleman to compare these wages and rates of remuneration with those in the various other Departments. If he will refer to another part of his own Estimates he will find that the estimate of sale from waste alone amounts to a sum of £7,000. It does seem to be ridiculous that a Department has got to expend £7,000 in dealing with waste and can only pay charwomen at the rate of 10s. a week. I should like to know if these charwomen are engaged all the time in the several buildings connected with these Departments, or whether they, are only partially employed, so as to sea whether the remuneration they receive is 1139 of a nature that the hon. Gentleman himself might be proud of in his own domestic concerns. I ask him to compare the wages paid to those people with some other remarkable facts. I should like to know the name of the Department that takes in no fewer than 100 copies of the "Peerage" to distribute among the clerks and 152 copies of the "Peerage," and no fewer than twenty-two copies of "Who's Who." What is the use of "Who's Who" in the Stationery Department? I can well imagine how it may be useful in the library, but what can be its use in the Stationery Department?
§ Mr. J. HOGGE
It is not set out, but the money is here for the purchase of these books for various Departments, and I am putting the point that here you have a Department paying charwomen 10s. a week, while it is wasting the money of the country in purchasing copies of books which seem to me to have no relevancy at all to the work of the Stationery Department. It seems to me that that is the kind of criticism these items ought to be subjected to, when we are asked to pass so large a sum of money. I have dealt with two small items first: I want now to raise some larger point. I should like to know whether there is any improvement in the number of printing firms tendering for the work of the Government, because I discovered that, although there are 245 paper mills in this country, 203 of which are on the stationery list of the House of Commons, very few of these ever tender for the supply of paper. As a matter of fact, the majority of them do not tender. It is also current knowledge that far too few printers tender for the enormous volume of work carried out by the Stationery Department. It is perfectly obvious that some great saving might be effected if these matters were subjected to greater competition. For instance, in 1906, when the Stationery Office went direct to the manufacturers, they effected a saving in that year of £54,000. It has occurred to me to ask my hon. Friend whether the Government has ever taken into consideration the possibility at all of manufacturing its own paper. If you look at the figures of the volume of work and of the variety of the work which passes through the Stationery Office, it is of such a nature and extent as to warrant some sort of experiment 1140 being made by the Government itself to deal with this as a self-contained Department. I understand, for example, that very frequently estimates have to be secured for a very special class of work. I do not know and have not heard of any method by which charges for that kind of work could be checked at all. Has the Stationery Office now, or does the Stationery Office contemplate in the future, setting up a Printing Department of its own?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Gentleman is, I understand, dealing with Item A, but on the lines on which he is going his speech would be more pertinent to the whole Vote, and I think it would be better if he dealt with the whole Vote instead of Item A.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
On a point of Order. I want to move a reduction of Item E. If the hon. Member moves a reduction upon the whole Vote I should be cut out.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is so. In the first instance, therefore, the Debate ought to be kept to Item A, which deals with salaries.
§ Mr. J. HOGGE
I have no desire at all to limit the discussion. I am in the hands of Members of the Committee as to whether I should move a reduction of Item A or not. If I take the opportunity of sitting down now, I presume I shall not lose my right of coming in again on other subjects. Therefore, as I do not desire to cramp the Debate, and as I cannot go further on this particular point, I content myself with asking for an answer in respect of wages.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member may review matters in his speech without moving at all, and leaving that open to the hon. Baronet, and then he could come in later on.
§ Mr. J. HOGGE
I do not desire to move a reduction upon this particular item. I am only copying the example of the hon. Baronet opposite in order to make a speech upon this particular Estimate. I do not propose to move a reduction, and if I do not I presume I could go over every item.
§ Mr. J. HOGGE
It is very nice of the hon. Member opposite to say so, and I hope that means that I shall be assured of his presence as long as I talk. There are only one or two other items to which I wish to refer, and the first is the length of the contracts made by the Stationery Office. As far back as 1908 they used to be for ten years, and the suggestion was made that they ought to be for shorter periods. I should like to know if the Stationery Office are now letting their contracts for shorter periods of time. There is one other point, and that is the printing for Government Departments involving an expenditure of one and three-quarter millions of money which might lead to the distribution of the work in such a way as to prevent a large amount of unemployment in the printing trade. Everybody knows if contracts are put out ax, a particular time, the sum charged for that work would be very large, as compared with work distributed over a whole year. Here is a big Government Department having a large sum of money to spend, and I want to know can they tell us what they are doing in that particular respect. I should like to know whether the fashions are changing amongst hon. Members who use the writing paper in the Library. I find that owing to the personal preference of hon. Members of this House desiring a particular kind of paper of a particular quality and a particular surface, it is costing the country about £1,200 more yearly.
§ Mr. J. HOGGE
I am not quarrelling about the quality of the paper which the hon. Member uses. What I am saying is that it costs more than it ought to do.
§ Mr. J. HOGGE
Because he intervened. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is a libel!"] Because hon. Members are exercising this privilege, the paper is costing us a great deal more. The quality of the paper used 1142 by the Cabinet, for instance, differs from that used by most hon. Members on the Back Benches or below the Gangway, and I hope we shall receive some information upon that point. I find that there is a very large gratuitous distribution of volumes connected with the work of the Department from time to time, and I should like to know who gets them—who are the people who make this demand upon the Department for free volumes of the work concerned with the Department. This amount stands at a fairly large figure each year, and it seems to me that these standard lists have a faculty of increasing to a great extent, and we really ought to know how far this gratuitous distribution goes on. With regard to economies that might be effected, I wish to remind the House of one matter. Hon. Members are aware that you find in the copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT that you get each morning, and also in the copy of the Votes and Proceedings each morning, replies to the same questions. I have taken the trouble to ascertain what that means in money, and I find that it costs £20 on a single day to duplicate that information in the Votes and Proceedings and in the OFFICIAL REPORT. That seems to me to be an unwarrantable waste of public money. Hon. Members complain that we get far too many Papers, and I dare say the bulk of us agree with that complaint. I am sure hon. Members do not desire that this large amount of money should be spent unnecessarily upon information which can be secured in another way. It is far handier to hon. Members in the OFFICIAL REPORT than in the Votes and Proceedings, and I am sure nobody will complain if the Department effected an economy in that direction. Hon. Members know that the Stationery Department, more than any other Government Department, has effected economies. They have, as a matter of fact, effected larger economies than any other Department which we have had to criticise from time to time. I do not know whether such economy is possible in the case of all the Estimates, but if every Estimate submitted to this House were reduced to the same extent as the Stationery Vote has been reduced by the exercise of economies, we should set free a sum of no less than £12,000,000 a year. That is a simple sum in arithmetic, and I am only showing what economies have been effected by this Department, and how great a necessity there is for every other Department to exercise the same economy.
§ Sir J. D. REES
I scarcely know how we stand on this Vote. The hon. Member who has just spoken has not moved a reduction, and I wish to know if I am at liberty now to speak from A to Q, although I do not wish to do so?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think it would be better to have a general discussion on the whole Vote, instead of confining the discussion to a particular item.
§ Sir J. D. REES
May I refer to the question of salaries, wages and allowances? To-day some objections have been raised to the expenditure of public money amounting to £3,200 in the case of distinguished ex-Ministers. On this Vote I see an excess of nearly double that amount in the present year, as compared with the figure last year. I think these items require some explanation from the hon. Gentleman opposite. For instance, I noticed there is £1,561 excess for deputy-superintendents of clerical branches. I am aware that the introduction of Socialistic legislation increases the number of clerks in Government offices and the general expense of administration, but I think the Committee would be better satisfied if this increase were explained. There is an increase of £800 for second division clerks, and the double star note does not give the information which, I think, the Committee would like to have. In the case of printing clerks, there is an increase of £700 a year and an increase for assistant clerks of £800 a year. In view of these increases, the inspector of waste seems to exist to very small purpose, because he has not been able to avoid these large increases. I gather that the particular function of this inspector is to prevent waste in binding. Does this refer to some technical operation in regard to binding, or waste in the operations of the Department that deals with binding? I dare say all this is perfectly clear to experts, but to me it is not clear, and I should be grateful if the hon. Gentleman would explain it.
The excess under Inspector of Waste is very small this year, but I do not understand what are the functions of this officer. In regard to warehousemen, there is an increase of 10 per cent. on the total Vote, and in the wages of porters and boys there is an increase of upwards of £2,500. These items chiefly account for the very large increase of £5,764 under Sub-head (a). The hon. Member who spoke last referred to the wages of charwomen, and he said he 1144 thought they were too low. I submit that the proper wage to pay to a charwoman is that which she obtains in ordinary employment, and probably the charges in this respect are fair and just. It does not seem to me at all consistent for an hon. Member who is objecting to excesses in these Estimates to urge the Department at the same time to increase the wages of charwomen. Will the hon. Gentleman kindly explain what is the allowance for clerical assistance in editing the "Dublin Gazette," which is costing £40 more a year than it did last year? I do not know whether it will continue to appear on this Vote in the future, but at the present time I do not know what that excess is, and I shall be grateful if the Secretary to the Treasury will explain it. The hon. Member opposite seemed to be "egging" the Government on to increase the pay of female typists. If they are satisfied and can be got at this wage, I think it is inconsistent of the hon. Member to urge the Government to increase those wages.
§ Sir GEORGE TOULMIN
Perhaps the House will permit me to say a few words on this Vote as Chairman of the Committee which has had to deal with the publications of the House. I do not think my hon. Friend on the Government Bench will deny that that Committee has been a very good supporter of the Treasury in its efforts at economy. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) who introduced this question has evidently paid the Committee the compliment of reading some of its Reports. The hon. Member drew attention to one or two recommendations which the Publications Committee have made in regard to the distribution of copies of "Who's Who," and other publications. I think that recommendation has already had a good effect upon the Government Departments; and the Stationery Office is entitled to be exonerated from the suggestion that that Office requires all these copies of publications for its daily use, because the Stationery Office simply distributes them. The demand for them is made by the heads of Departments, and the Stationery Office has no authority itself to refuse. It can only put a little check upon the demand by bringing the attention of the Publications Committee of this House to what it considers to be extravagant.
In regard to the time for contracts, a couple of years ago the Publications Committee went into the question of contracting for printing. They found that ten 1145 years had been the period for which printing contracts were made, and it was considered too long. The period was reduced to five years, and then it was found that that was too short. In ten years it was found that there was not sufficient elasticity for the Departments, and in the five years' period it was found that the contractors were scarcely able to recoup themselves for the extra cost which they might be put to by undertaking a Government contract. The hon. Member for Nottingham (Sir J. D. Rees) is troubled about the waste, in regard to which £7,000 has been recovered by the Stationery Office. That waste is what the hon. Member sees before him in the House, and the Government Departments. My hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh made what I think is rather a new suggestion, and that is that the Government should manufacture its own paper. I cannot agree that that suggestion would be an economical proceeding. The various Government Departments require a great many varieties of paper of different qualities, and the amount of paper they require varies each year. They may have a sudden demand for one size and quality one year, and a very small demand in the succeeding year. I am afraid it would be a very doubtful experiment, and, personally, I should not feel inclined to encourage the suggestion that the Government should undertake the manufacture of paper. I agree that direct contracting with paper makers is very much better than buying paper from agents in such large quantities as the Stationery Office has to do, and the saving which was secured some fifteen years ago when that system was first adopted has been continued. I consider that on the whole the method by which the Stationery Office buys its paper is very economical, and that it is very well done. They will have a still further advantage when the new premises which are being built for them give them a greater margin for storage.
I may also point out to the Committee the attention which has been paid in late years to the method of contracting for printing. A few years ago the contracts were very large, and they were secured by very few firms indeed. Out of about £150,000 worth of printing, two firms secured £74,000 worth. Since then the Stationery Office has revised the contracts, and has reduced them, making it possible for a much larger number of firms to secure a portion of the work. In view 1146 of the suggestion that the Government might itself do a certain proportion of the printing, it was thought advisable to continue for another two years the contracts which would have terminated a few months ago. Some of the contractors were unwilling to continue the contracts, and those contracts were put up again. There was only a small number of them. It is rather testimony to the superior skill of the Stationery Office in letting these contracts to find that these very contracts which the contractors refused to continue have been let out again, to the amount of £37,500, with a saving for the first year of some £4,000, and for the second year of some £2,000. That is almost entirely owing to the fact that the Stationery Office has rearranged its forms of tender, has given further particulars of the contracts, and divided the numbers. The illustrative figures for the last twenty-five years are something like the following: In 1887, four firms secured £138,000 worth of printing; in 1897, nine firms secured £154,000 worth of printing; and in 1907 £200,000 worth was divided among twelve firms only. A few months ago £37,000 worth of printing was given out, and seven firms have now secured those contracts. The Publications Committee a few years ago recommended that the Government should do its own printing, and a Departmental Committee was then set up. It considered that it was not advisable to set up a central Government printing press, but it did recommend that Departmental presses should be set up, especially one at the Post Office, where they expected a saving of something like £5,000 on £55,000 worth of work. The Treasury, as my hon. Friend may know, was, however, adverse on general grounds of policy to further Departmental presses being set up. This adverse decision, I may say, was against a scheme which would have involved a capital expenditure of some £280,000. The Committee was actuated by the fact that there has been no actual experiment on a large scale. It appears to me—although I do not want to prejudge the decisions of the Committee which may be taken some time this Session—that there are very strong reasons which may be adduced for the Stationery Office having at its disposal a considerable printing establishment. Of all the Departments, if any, it appears to me that the Department through the hands of which £1,000,000 of printing goes is the very one which ought to have printing facilities at its disposal. The Department 1147 has a great variety of work to give out, and, while the Departmental presses which the Committee recommended would have all the fluctuations of one Department, a central Department would be able to avoid fluctuations by the average of work from the whole of the Departments of the Government.
The Stationery Office has to buy nearly £500,000 worth of paper yearly. A great proportion of it, almost the whole of it, is brought to London. It would have this under its own hands, and would, therefore, avoid, for whatever printing it did, one turnover of the paper in its being sent out and returned printed. The argument for the Stationery Office having some printing machinery and plant at its disposal is for this reason a very strong one. The Department has to decide all technical questions which arise, and it would undoubtedly find it most valuable to have an extensive equipment for keeping its technical advisers up to date in their knowledge of new printing methods and machinery. Its staff, by whom all the work received has to be checked, is now entirely divorced from all practical working. It is recruited occasionally by skilled workmen being brought in, but once they get into the Stationery Office they may possibly never see a printing office again. I do not want to be taken as making any reflection on the staff in saying that, because I believe their work to be very well done; but, in forming an opinion as to cost, freshness of knowledge, and acquaintance with modern processes and machinery are of very great value. A great deal of the work which is given out is of such a nature that exact details cannot be supplied to those firms who wish to tender. At the recent inquiry several of the witnesses described tendering for Government printing as very speculative, and very much of a gamble. Those are conditions under which it is probable that those who are engaged in the gamble will see that the odds are on their own side. They are sure to take security that they will not lose. I do not wish to prejudge what the Committee which is considering the matter may say, but I hope that my hon. Friend will be willing to turn a kindly ear if the Committee should consider it advisable that the Stationery Office among its facilities should have the setting up of a printing department.
I should like to make a remark generally, if the Committee will allow me, with 1148 regard to the Motions which are made in the House for the presentation of Returns. Frequently, when there is a Motion on the Paper for a Return, the exact form of headings and rules is set out on the Paper. On these occasions the Member who-draws that up may not know what will be the exact size of the column which is best, and the various details which will produce an economical Return. I can give an instance in connection with a Return moved for by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford Diversity (Lord Hugh Cecil). It was a Return of the sales of advowsons. If that Return had been set up in the same way as a previous Return of ten years ago, it would have cost £180. The Stationery Office drew attention to the extravagant manner of the composition, and on being approached the Noble Lord was perfectly willing to have it done in the most economical and convenient form. Instead of £180, set up on the manner suggested by the Stationery Office, the cost for composition was £60, so that no less than £120 out of £180 was saved by the Stationery Office in that one instance. I would suggest, instead of drawing up the exact form, that hon. Members should be content to mention the particulars they require, and simply say "in a convenient form." The form could be afterwards arranged by the skilled advisers of the Department.
I may mention, with regard to the OFFICIAL REPORT, that the additional facilities which are now given to the House by the Daily Reports being ready the next morning instead of at the week-end, have been secured by a favourable contract, so that if what was done now were done at the price which used to be paid, instead of costing £13,100, it would cost £17,338. I think that the House has done very well to take into its own hands its own reporting, separating the reporting and the printing contracts, and giving out the printing to contract. By that means it was also able to secure greatly increased facilities for the Departments. At the present time there are no fewer than thirteen Departments who have the Debates and questions which relate to their own Department set up in separate parts. The Irish Office, the Board of Education, the Post Office, the India Office, the War Office, the Treasury, the Labour Exchanges, the Board of Agriculture, the Admiralty, the Scottish Office, the Home Office, the Colonial Office, and the National Insurance Commission are all able, 1149 by using the type which is now at the disposal of the Stationery Office, to have their own separate parts together in a very handy form. I might also mention the fact, which I think was alluded to by my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh, that it has been recommended by the Committee that neither the Division Lists nor the non-oral questions should be printed twice. One costs an additional £1,000 a year, and the other an additional £900 a year. There is one other little detail with regard to questions in which perhaps the House may be interested, and that is that the average number of questions per day is now 138, while ten years ago it was sixty-four. The number of pages occupied in the OFFICIAL REPORT by questions and answers is now more than double what it was ten years ago. If you wish to secure economy in printing, you must really reduce the amount of the work. Whilst you have in the Stationery Office a Department which is extremely economical, it has to fulfil all the demands of the Departments, and so long as you have an avalanche of leaflets from the Insurance Commissioners, torrents of statistics from the different Departments, and further Returns asked for by Members of this House, so long will your printing bill continue to grow, and so long will my hon. Friend at the Treasury have to try and keep a tight hand, as I believe the Treasury does, all round.
§ Sir F. BANBURYrose—
§ Mr. WALTER REA
May I ask if the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London moves his Amendment now it will preclude further debate on the matters discussed by my hon. Friend?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
No, I propose to do that later on. But I wish to say a few words in answer to the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bury (Sir G. Toulmin). I have obtained a copy of the Report, which is a very interesting document, and have read as well as I could during the last few moments what it says as to whether or not it is advisable the Government should set up a printing department of its own. I think, as shown by what the hon. Member said, it certainly is not advisable, for, if I did not misunderstand him, he told the Committee 1150 that printing for the Government was a very great gamble. He said he had been informed by the contractors that printing-was a gambling transaction, and there might be a loss or there might be a profit. We do not want the Government to enter into these gambling transactions, because it would still remain a gamble.
§ Sir G. TOULMIN
I am afraid that the hon. Baronet did not quite appreciate my argument. I said the contractors feel that it is a gamble, and therefore they add 10 per cent. to what they think they can-do the work for, in order to make themselves quite secure; whereas, if the Government did it themselves, they would only pay the real cost.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Then apparently I am right in what I said. The contractors think, say, that the cost is going to be £300,000. It turns out to be £340,000. The printers lose £40,000, which the nation gains.
§ Sir G. TOULMIN
If the contractor thinks it is going to cost £300,000, he charges £330,000, and, if it proves to cost only £280,000, then the nation loses £50,000.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
But you must also take it the other way. Suppose the contractors make a mistake. It may be suggested that they never make mistakes, and if that can be shown to be the case I have nothing further to say. But the very statement of the hon. Member that the contractor says it is a gambling transaction, and he is not quite certain what the cost is going to be—of course, I only use the word "gambling" in the sense that it is impossible to estimate the cost—shows that in these circumstances it is better to leave it to the contractor instead of to the Government. If we know perfectly well what it is going to cost, possibly it might be better for the Government to undertake it. Even on that point I am very doubtful; but if it is a problematical question then the Government, had better leave it to the contractor instead of attempting to execute the work themselves. There is another point. It would be necessary to have experts to supervise all this work. As far as my own personal feelings are concerned, I rather sympathise with the Members of the Government, who are having this additional work cast upon them. I understand their work is very hard at the present moment—I have never been a Government official myself, and therefore I cannot really say, 1151 but is it to the advantage of the nation, when you remember all the difficulties that are put in the way of a Government Department and the pressure which Members of Parliament are subjected to to obtain increased rates of pay and increased emoluments for this and that and the other for the particular service of a Government Department—a thing which is very bad in itself, and which, I am sure, every Member of Parliament dislikes—is it to the advantage of the nation to multiply the number of Government Departments and to increase the pressure put upon Members of Parliament. I think it would be a very mistaken policy, especially when the work, as in this ease, is of a nature which fluctuates considerably in the year. The hon. Member in paragraph 3 of his Report says:—In this connection your Committee recommend that each Government Department should, during next year, carefully consider the periodical publications for which they are responsible, both as to contents and ill consultation with the Stationery Office, as to form. Your Committee examined a considerable number of these publications and found much to criticise in the method of their preparation. It is in their opinion very desirable that the Departments should consult the Stationery Office before the "copy" is prepared. Your Committee recommended the adoption of this course in 1907–8, and in accordance with that recommendation circulars have been issued by the Treasury to the various Departments. Your Committee, however, regret to note that the system does not appear to have been completely adopted, and a case has been brought to their notice in which a Department of the Local Government Hoard—I believe the Local Government Board are very great sinners in this respect, that they issue a very large number of publications—had never even been informed of the existence of the Treasury circular.To set up a Committee of this House, and when they make, as this Committee did in 1907–8, what, at any rate, seems to be a very sensible Report, in which they offer a sensible recommendation, and for the Local Government Board, one of the chief offices in the country, never even to be informed of the existence of the Treasury Regulation is very strange indeed.
§ Sir G. TOULMIN
Possibly I did not make the point quite clear. What I meant to convey was that one Department of the Local Government Board had never been informed of the circular. The Local Government Board itself had received the circular, but the attention of a separate Department of the Board appears not to "have been drawn to it.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
That really makes it all the worse. Apparently, the Local 1152 Government Board had been informed, and had not even taken the trouble to convey the information to one of its Departments. I do not know which Department it was, or whether a very important Department was left out purposely. If the circular went to the Local Government Board it should have been passed on to all the Departments. I am very much obliged to the hon. Member for his explanation, but I am not obliged to him for his attempt to whitewash the Government, an attempt which, I think, has not been very successful. There is another recommendation to this effect:—Your Committee see no reason to modify the con elusion then arrived at, but desire rather to emphasise it: and, in addition, they would point out that the Division Lists are duplicated, i.e., they appear in the OFFICIAT. REPORT and also in the Votes and Proceedings, a duplication which appears to your Committee lo be unnecessaryI do not know whether that will have a very great effect in saving money. It is not necessary, in my opinion, to have the Division Lists in the Votes and Proceedings, but it is necessary to have them in the OFFICIAL REPORT, because many Members look at the OFFICIAL REPORT—it may not be on the following morning or even in the following week—and they may have to turn it up for reference, and may desire to know if there was a Division on a particular subject and who voted in it. They would not look to the Votes and Proceedings for that, and consequently the inclusion of Division Lists there is not a very great necessity. I hope that, in that regard, the recommendation of the hon. Member will be carried. The item for printing and stationery is a very large one. The net sum is over a million sterling. We all know it is absolutely necessary to spend a considerable sum upon printing and stationery for the advantage of the nation, but a very considerable portion of it might be saved if there were not so many circulars sent out from the different offices. The hon. Member in his speech said something about insurance tracts.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Very well. Circulars sent out from the Insurance Commission and from other offices pointing out the advantages of certain things. I will not allude to that further, because I intend 1153 later on to move a reduction of Item E for this very reason. I do hope the new Financial Secretary will seriously consider whether something cannot be done to curtail waste in this Department. It is almost impossible to prevent a certain amount of waste and duplication, but still I think some considerable saving might be made in the printing of unnecessary circulars, which, I am afraid, is done at an excessive rate.
§ Mr. WALTER REA
I think the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) did not quite appreciate the point raised by the hon. Member for Bury (Sir G. Toulmin) in regard to the somewhat speculative contracts. The fact is that it is impossible to tell beforehand how they will work out. In consequence of that my hon. Friend says it is a gamble, and as only people who have already had experience of the work will tender for it, the competition is "very limited. As gambling phraseology has been brought in—I have not much acquaintance with bookmaking and gambling, but I have always been given to understand, and perhaps that is the reason why I have not indulged in it, that when one gambles with a bookmaker the odds are in favour of the bookmaker—I am making no reflection on the printing trade in general when I say that in respect of these contracts the odds are equally in favour of the printer as against the Government, and therefore it appears desirable that the Government should have an opportunity of placing a check upon the very small number of firms who are prepared to tender for these so-called speculative contracts.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I think I am right in saying the hon. Member for Bury himself stated that two contractors had refused to take contracts which had then been relet at a reduced sum. That would seem to show that there is competition.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. W. REA
Yes, undoubtedly, but a large number of the contracts might correctly be described as speculative. There is a difference between contracts for work which is perfectly well understood, and which is done year after year, and contracts which cannot be calculated upon beforehand, and it is with a view of saving money in this direction that I think a Government Department would be of advantage. I would like to appeal to the Treasury to lend a sympathetic ear to our 1154 plea for a Government printing office on an adequate, though not an extravagant, scale. It is perhaps anticipating a little the conclusions of the Committee over which my hon. Friend the Member for Bury presides, and of which I have the honour to be a member. But the opportunity seems to be a good one for bringing the point before the House and under the attention of the Financial Secretary, and I trust the Committee will not think that we are poaching on its preserves by putting forward our plan before a formal decision has been arrived at. It seems most desirable we should have an adequate printing office, at least for the Stationery Department, which knows far more about printing than many other Government Departments that already have presses of their own. I ask this, not on grounds of philanthropy, which the hon. Baronet would probably expect, or so that the conditions of employment should be of the best—though I will admit that that is an eminently desirable result to be obtained—but on other grounds. I ask the Government to set up something in the way of a printing press to serve as a check on the contractors, not only in regard to speculative contracts, but also in regard to the whole of the printing for the public service. It is perfectly true that there is a large amount of competition for Government work, but at the same time you have a, system of contracts for the public service which is always at the mercy of a ring that may be formed among the comparatively few printing contractors who are able to tender for the particular work required. In that case they are bound to give the work out at the ring price, unless they have their own Government Department. Even though that Government printing department is small and quite incapable of doing more than a small percentage of the total Government printing work, it could, nevertheless, take on any particular job in regard to which there was reason to believe they were being asked for more money than the job was worth. In that respect it would serve as a most useful check upon the danger of rings being formed, as we have every reason to believe they have been formed in the past, in regard to various Departments against the Government. It is probably within the knowledge of this Committee that within the last few years, in regard to one particular class of contract for one item only, a ring had been formed, or, at any rate, 1155 it had been the custom to restrict competition very severely. As a result of careful inquiry by the Treasury, and, perhaps, at some little risk and inconvenience to the public service, a saving was made which amounted to no less than £70,000 per year.
There is a further saving to be made by a Government printing department, in that these contracts are now made for a period of seven years. Many of them are for Returns and publications which come out year after year without any change, and, therefore, the type is kept standing. If a contractor only gets a contract for seven years, he has only to spend in the first year the cost of setting up all that type. If a Government Department takes such a contract as that in hand, they would know that at the end of seven years they would not have to surrender the work, and they could keep the type standing from year to year, or as long as it was required, and, once set up, that composing would be done with and it would not be a recurring expense. That would mean a considerable saving to the public service. There is, it is true, a risk that such a printing press might allocate to itself the most desirable printing jobs, but I cannot believe, having regard to the record of the Stationery Department, that it would be guilty of any such practice. If it were established, it would be in a position to undertake work which was hardly of a pressing nature, what we call "stand-by" work, and would be able to keep its presses going with work which was not urgently required by public Departments. It would be able to carry on the work more economically than printing presses which have to depend upon spasmodic orders which they cannot in any way control. On the whole, I think a case has been made out for establishing something in the nature of a Government printing department. I would not suggest that a very large expenditure should be made at first. I believe it is possible, by the expenditure of only a few thousand pounds, to set up a comparatively small printing press, not on a small scale, because I want it to be on such a scale that it could be extended as it proves to be desirable.
§ Mr. W. REA
What I urge is that the sum of £10,000 should be expended in setting up a sufficiently large public printing 1156 press to be able to compete with any chance of rings being formed against the Government, and if that press justifies itself by carrying out the work economically and to the satisfaction of the other Departments from year to year, as it justifies itself, further money could be spent until the Department was expanded to-the extent which some hon. Members below the Gangway wish to see established at once. I welcome the opportunity, which occurs far too seldom, of considering the general question of expenditure on stationery. We are all very conscious that it is growing very rapidly—indeed, I fear there is a tendency rather to condemn the Stationery Department as though it were responsible. On the contrary, the Stationery Department has proved itself to be at least as efficient as any other Department of the Government service. It is to be remembered, in its favour, that it is the unwilling servant of all the other Departments, in that it has to carry out their demands without being able to put more than a very slight check upon them. If it were not that this House had an occasional opportunity of stiffening the back of the Stationery Department, I am afraid the extravagance would be very much greater than at the present time. In-particular, I would ask that this House should set its own house in order as far as possible, and I join in the appeal made by the hon. Baronet that we should at least avoid extravagance in our own printing. I agree with him as to the unnecessary duplication of Division Lists and the Written Answers to Questions. As a matter of fact, that can only be settled by a Standing Order of the House. It is under the Standing Order that both those items are printed in the Votes. We know that nobody looks at the Votes of Proceedings when he wants to get a record of the Divisions or an answer to a question.
§ Mr. W. REA
My hon. Friend will agree with me that they can be equally conveniently looked up in the Report of the Proceedings. I regret to hear my hon. Friend advocating an expenditure which must amount to £2,000 or £3,000 a year in order to have the answers to his questions reprinted when they are already printed, so that he may have the honour and glory of seeing them in a larger type.
§ Mr. W. REA
This matter cannot be altered without an alteration in the Standing Orders of the House. I suggest to hon. Members that if they are sincere in their desire for economy, they should agree to an amendment of the Standing Orders without it being necessary to discuss the matter in the House.
Mr. EDGAR HORNE
The Committee knows that the very large number of the Members of the House serve on Committees upstairs. They do so very willingly, because they think, perhaps, it would be of some use to the country, but much of their efficiency is diminished through one small difficulty they experience. We have in Committee very often a large number of Papers, and on several occasions we have asked for paper-cases to be provided in order that we may keep our papers together and do our work with efficiency. I regret to say that that request has been refused. It is a cynical comment on the value of our work that such a small addition to our comfort and the efficiency of our work should be denied us by the Treasury. I imagine that the cost of these cases could hardly be more than 2s. or 2s. 6d. each. If every Member of the House had one given to him, the whole cost would not be more than £100. I have served on a Departmental Committee, and there no question was raised, because each one of us was furnished with a case, which we found extremely useful—in fact, if we had not had them, we should not have been able to keep our papers together, and valuable time would have been taken up in dealing with them. It is not parsimony, but true economy, if Members are enabled to carry on their work with efficiency.
§ Mr. GEORGE ROBERTS
We are all agreed that the Stationery Office is one of the most efficient Government Departments. I should like to associate myself with the excellent work done by the Publications and Debates Committee. I am certain they have exercised themselves to the utmost to effect every possible economy in respect of printing, binding, etc. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. James Hogge) prefaced his speech with some reference to the wages of charwomen and others. I beg to associate myself with those sentiments, although I think it is a point applicable to all State Departments. It is a question which ought to be overhauled, not in respect to the Government Stationery Department alone, but in respect to every Government Department. The hon. Member 1158 for East Nottingham (Sir J. D. Rees) suggested that even charwomen should be put in competition with one another in order to see what is the lowest wage which they will take. I believe the majority of Members will desire that all those in their service should receive such a sufficient reward as will enable them to live, and I suppose the hon. Member himself shares that view, although he expresses views of a somewhat different (character. There are two points to which I desire to express myself. One is in respect to the placing of Government contracts. The hon. Member for Bury (Sir G. Toulmin), who so ably acts as the Chairman of the Publications and Debates Committee, has revealed to the Committee the reasons why the duration of contracts has been varied from time to time. Originally the period was one of ten years. Experience proved that that was too long. Then it was changed to one of five years. Experience proved that to be too short, hence, I believe, the common practice now to be to give contracts for a period of seven years. I agree that ten years was too long, especially having regard to the great fluctuation in the prices of paper which constantly take place. Of course, paper is one of the chief items in expenditure under this head.
On the other hand, five years has been proved to be hardly fair to those who have to carry out these contracts, because, as the hon. Member for Scarborough (Mr. Walter Rea) said, during the period of the contract the contractors have to recoup themselves for all the charges of typesetting, etc., which means that they have imposed upon them too short a period, and they have to inflate their prices beyond the ordinary market prices in order to cover their risks. It might well be that seven years has been proved by experience to be fair to the Government and to the contractor as well. I desire to direct the attention of the hon. Gentleman in charge of this Vote to one point relating to Government contracts. I would like him to tell us what measures are adopted in order to secure that in respect to Government contracts the Fair-Wages Clause is carried out. I am prepared to acknowledge that in recent years a marked improvement has been made in this regard. I believe that many reproaches have been removed from the Government because of the amendment of that Clause and the improved manner of its administration. I may claim to have some knowledge of the trade, because when I used to work I was a printer. Now that I am in the House of Commons 1159 my friends tell me I do not work, and therefore I cannot claim to be placed in that category.
§ Mr. G. ROBERTS
I intended that as a joke. I make claim to have some intimate knowledge of the trade, and to speak on some points with modest authority. But I am informed that there are firms holding Government contracts, which have offices in London, but send some Government work out into branches in the provinces and by that means the provisions of the Fair-Wages Clause are evaded. I have on occasion made representation to the heads of Departments on this matter. I appreciate their difficulties, because I have experience of them myself. I find it very difficult to get exact particulars upon which to prefer charges against these firms, but there is more than reasonable ground for suspicion that this is not at all an uncommon practice, that a firm which may, because of the superior strength of the organisation in London, he compelled to conform strictly to the Fair-Wages provisions may, where that combination is lacking in provincial parts, resort to conditions which cannot possibly be recognised as an honourable compliance with the provisions of the Fair-Wages Clause.
I can indicate to the right hon. Gentleman two instances, one at Dunstable and another at Woodham. I am convinced that in both these cases firms which have Government contracts, and which are at present, I believe, Government contractors, have conditions prevailing in branch offices which no reasonable person will be prepared to defend as coming within the provisions of the Fair-Wages Clause. Female labour is resorted to in a manner which would not be recognised were that work done in London. I candidly confess that it is extremely difficult to get reliable data on which to prefer exact charges, but I submit that it would be incumbent upon the authority placing those contracts to compel those firms to prove that they are in full compliance with the Fair-Wages Clause, not only in their London establishment but in their branch offices—that is, at any rate, if there is any chance whatever of Government work reaching those branch offices. I do not think that is an unreasonable request, and I do not think the manner in 1160 which I have preferred it will be objected to by any hon. Member. It may be, of course, that when inquiries are prosecuted you will be told that the house is perfectly fair in London. That may be so. My hon. Friend (Mr. Bowerman) is able to speak with even greater authority than I can, because he maintains a more intimate connection with trade matters than I have been able to do in recent years, but I believe he will bear me out that it is a very common practice for Government work to be transferred to these provincial establishments where we are told in full confidence and with perfect candour that the Fair Wages Clause desired to be enforced by this House is violated in a considerable degree. I would respectfully request that the right hon. Gentleman should give special consideration to this point, and that he will ascertain whether it is possible for the officials of his Department to compel these contractors to give the fullest possible information respecting wages and general conditions, not only in regard to London, but also to provincial establishments under their control.
A very interesting development has ensued in this Debate on the question of a State printing office. Here of course the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) will know that he and I do not agree excepting on this point. I most heartily associate myself with him in the principle that in all these matters we should simply contemplate efficiency and economy and therefore, if I make the admission that when I approach this subject it is from that point of view, I am sure he will regard it that I am concerned with the public welfare equally as I am prepared to acknowledge that to be his motive. For my own part I feel that a very strong case has been made out for a considerable experiment under this head. I am not going to urge, as the hon. Member (Mr. Walter Rea) seemed to suggest, that my hon. Friends on this bench would demand that the State should immediately set up an establishment sufficient to cope with all Government printing. I am not prepared to urge a scheme of that character, for after all I can quite conceive that this is a subject which must be approached first of all from an experimental stage, and that subsequent developments must very largely be guided by the result of the experiment thus conducted. I should be quite prepared to accept that, because I have supreme confidence that once the experiment 1161 was embarked upon, a very wide extension of the principle would be justified, but here of course, any experiment must be based upon conditions which will allow of ultimate extension. I do not think that the question of a few thousand pounds is worthy of consideration by this House. The Post Office has given some consideration to this matter, and the very humble project they have outlined involves a capital expenditure, I believe, of some £56,000 or £57,000.
Of course, those who are accustomed to speak of millions may regard that as rather a small sum, but if, in respect of the printing of one Department, a scheme involving a capital outlay of £56,000 has to be contemplated, a scheme worthy of the Government undertaking must necessarily be of much larger dimensions than that. Here I want to enter a protest, strictly adhering to my original thesis of efficiency and economy, against different Departments setting up small distinct offices. After all, if we are to have a number of small printing offices, that must certainly be a most uneconomic method of doing Government work. Everyone is aware, of course, of the advantages and economies of large productions in these days, and everyone will see that you must have a supervisor—a competent person—in each one of these smaller offices, and in the aggregate the expenditure thus made is of an inefficient and uneconomic character; therefore, I suggest that the Government already has the nucleus of a "State printing office. If they were to bring together the few small offices that they now have under their control they could make a start of this character in a manner likely to afford a fair test and to prove the possibility, from the point of better economy and more efficient administration, of Government printing.
Some year or two since I went over the marvellous State printing office of the United States in Washington, and there the experience of everybody competent to judge was that that was the best method of doing the Government work. Certainly it is one of the best organised and best equipped printing offices with which I have made acquaintance. I made inquiries, not only as to the conditions prevailing amongst the workpeople, but from the point of view of a Government concern, and without claiming to be able to give an opinion which ought to be accepted unreservedly by every Member of this House, I should say 1162 that the opinions that I gleaned went to show that the Department was certainly justified, and that it was regarded as a most efficient and desirable method of doing Government printing work. We have a great deal of confidential printing to be done. This very often has to be paid for at a higher rate when placed with private contractors. The Government, having an office of its own, would be able to treat all this work as confidential, and would not lay itself open to any special charges. Again, the hon. Gentleman (Sir G. Toulmin) submitted a very pertinent point here. I have a very high opinion of those who are in the Stationery Office. I know that many of them are men of practical knowledge of the trade in all its branches. We take them and place them in a Government office, which admits of no immediate contact with great modern printing establishments, and I know of no form of industry in which the processes undergo such rapid change, and even complete change, as in modern printing offices. If the Government had an office equipped in modern fashion, organised on scientific-principles, I believe the staff would then be better able to deal with the mass of Government printing which comes under their control. As it is, I am fearful that they have very largely to be left at the mercy of the contractors or the contractors' representatives on many points which come under their consideration. I know that the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) opposes this, because he fears that many more officials would have to be appointed. He says we must have experts. In my opinion we already have the expert opinion at the Stationery Office. We are already paying for that opinion and for that service, which is now kept in a narrower sphere, whereas, if we had a State printing department, I believe that same expert opinion would be able to deal with both the purely stationery side and also with the productive side of the printing office itself. A Committee inquired into this matter in 1907. They did not report favourably then to the Government embarking upon a great scheme. I believe that opinion has very largely improved since then, and that a majority of the House might be found in favour of an experiment being made in this direction. Then, provided the experiment had been wisely conceived, and it had a fair chance and then was proved to be a failure, I will admit to the hon. Baronet that the State ought not to develop it. On the other 1163 hand, I believe that all the inquiry which has been prosecuted goes to prove that it is eminently desirable that the Government should have such a Department under their control, and hence I most heartily associate myself with those who have requested that the right hon. Gentleman will give a fair consideration to this point, and that he will be able to tell us whether the Government have prosecuted inquiries into the matter and have any intention of taking action in this direction.
§ Major HOPE
I wish to call attention to a small point. I see there is a Vote for stationery for printing for the War Office of £124,000. This, of course, includes the publication of the Army Vote. Perhaps I should address this rather to the Minister for War. I know that in most cases the Government Departments have the greatest difficulty in getting money out of the Treasury, and, therefore, I think the Secretary to the Treasury may be to a certain extent responsible in this matter. My point is that the "Manual of Military Law "was published in 1907, and that there have been, I believe, a good many corrections brought out since then in the shape of Army orders. An important one was read to the House the other day. At the present moment I understand that the "Manual of Military Law" cannot be purchased in the ordinary way and at the ordinary price. It is out of print, and, although the price originally was 2s., I myself on applying to two or three shops in London, including Messrs. Spottiswoode, found that I could get an old copy for 7s. 6d., but I was told that if I wished one up to date I should have to pay 15s. This may seem a small point, but there are a lot of officers in the Army who have to get up these subjects.
§ The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
This is out of order. The question the hon. Member is discussing does not arise on this Vote at all. It is a matter for the Secretary of Stale for War, and this Vote has nothing at all to do with the Secretary of State for War. It is the Stationery Vote, and I cannot allow the hon. Member to proceed on that line.
§ Major HOPE
May I suggest that the money for printing is provided under the Stationery Vote. I think there is considerable parsimony shown in providing money for the printing of new editions of War Office books as they run out. Is that in order? I only wish to bring out the hardship 1164 to officers in the Army who have to pay 15s. for this book.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I have told the hon. Member that it is out of order to discuss that matter for the reason I gave.
§ Mr. BOOTH
Certain of my hon. Friends on this side of the House have been patting themselves and their colleagues because of some economies which have been effected. I do not challenge their action, nor do I say that they are not faithful. They have carried cut some economies, but I have yet to learn that because a Member of the House of Commons does his duty in that way and saves a little waste we need spend the whole afternoon discussing the matter. After all, there is a great deal of room for more improvement, and I should have preferred some indication from my hon. Friends above the Gangway as to other matters, and the economies which they hope to effect in the coming year. We have not heard a solitary word to suggest that there is more that they hope to be able to do. I trust that next year they will be able to tell us something which will encourage the House to hope that they intend to do better in the future. My hon. Friend referred to the cost of wastepaper baskets. I do not think that a basket costs more than 2s. 6d., and it is hardly necessary to discuss that matter. I think this House ought to set a good example to every Department and to public officials whom we love to criticise. The hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) made a good start, and called attention to the fact that the Local Government Board did not tell the officials of its own Department a very important matter, and that thereby an important economy which might have been carried cut was lost. If that is so, let us begin nearer home. Who are we that we should lecture the Department about extravagance when we carry on an extravagant system with regard to our own concerns? We get by every day's post an enormous number of Papers. Some hon. Members who live at hotels will pair for a month, and then on coming back they find addressed to them a pile of official documents which have to be carried away in a furniture van. I say that the very sight of that literature accumulating at the expense of the State is demoralising to club and hotel servants, and this House loses the confidence it ought to enjoy.
Some hon. Members are fond of introducing Bills to deal with every subject on 1165 heaven and earth. One night there was on the Order Paper private Bills to the number of no less than ninety-two, which, of course, have to be printed—that is to say, ninety-two amateur attempts at legislation. Does anybody suggest that the people of this country are anxious to have ninety-two Acts of Parliament passed in one night about old men, children, horses, women, and every kind of industry? The hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London objected to forty, and I objected to twenty-one. There were twenty Bills whose authors were absent, and about eleven were slaughtered. That involves a huge waste of money. Hon. Members do not think enough of the public purse when they bring forward these schemes to advertise themselves or the particular society which is promoting them, or to put some project before the House. The tons and tons of wastepaper in connection with these Bills represents an astonishing charge for printing, and I think we ought to practise a little economy ourselves before we preach it to others. The hon. Baronet is apt occasionally to introduce a Bill, but not very often. In one Session he introduced two Bills on the same subject—No. 1 and No. 2—and that shows that if he had been a little more careful of the public purse he would not have been guilty of that extravagance. I say that the sight we present is not edifying, and I wish my hon. Friends who are members of the Publications Committee would make some suggestions which would lead to greater economy in the future. I would like some system adopted whereby they could stop the delivery of Papers which go in an everlasting stream to hon. Members when they are away for a prolonged period. Could not something be done so that hon. Members while away could cancel the delivery of the Papers?
With regard to the point that we do not want two Reports per day, I do not agree with the hon. Member for Scarborough (Mr. W. Rea) when he says that nobody looks at the Votes and Proceedings. Of course, we do. The names in the Division Lists in the OFFICIAL REPORT are in exceedingly small type, and I would suggest to any Member who likes to keep the Division Lists by him to take them from the Votes and Proceedings, so as to avoid tearing up the volume of the OFFICIAL REPORT. I do not object to one Report of the Divisions being substituted for the two which we at present receive, but let us have one well printed. If we are not to have the Division 1166 Lists in the Votes and Proceedings, they should be printed in a better form than they are now in the columns of the OFFICIAL REPORT. If that were done, then we might sacrifice having two kinds of Reports. I speak on behalf of some of the older Members of the House whose eyesight is not what it was. I know that they have been unable to make out the print in the OFFICIAL REPORT, and if it is really intended to make a change in this matter, I would suggest that the names should be printed in much better type. I would almost move a reduction of the Vote in order to test the feeling of the House on this matter. The wanton waste in connection with printed matter really puts us out of court when impressing on others the necessity for economy. I am sure it has a bad effect on the Departments. The fact that we are so careless—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I really do not see what the Stationery Department has to do with that. It is a matter for the Members themselves. The Stationary Department simply carries out orders.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I quite agree; I was dealing with what has been put forward on behalf of the Publications Committee, and hon. Members who have spoken in regard to the savings have vanished before I could reply to them. I am glad that the hon. Member for Scarborough is still here. They were complaining of the waste in certain Departments, and I say that we ought to begin our economies at home. As to the suggestion that there ought to be a Government Department to do all this printing, I am not convinced about that, and I do not wish it to go forth that it is the general opinion on this side of the House that there should be such a Department, because that is not so. It is quite true that we have some expert compositors or printers. That will not make a success of the Department. Our Civil Service officials are not business men in the sense of being able to manage big works, and they are not chosen on this ground. They may be politicians, or the relatives of politicians, but I have no confidence whatever that we select the right kind of people to conduct a great business department such as this would have to be if we printed these publications ourselves. I have no objection to the State doing a certain thing, but if we do it we should have a competent staff and a manager who would save money. In these matters I am an opportunist. I do not apply a rigid rule 1167 as to whether we should or should not do certain work. It is purely a case of considering whether we have the right men and whether we can save money by doing it. No information has been given to us that we have a manager. What are you going to pay him? What does a private firm pay its manager? It pays a good price, and expects good work. If you are going to decide upon doing this work, what do you propose to pay? It is very easy to say that you want to make a start and to have the Government doing its own printing in works which would go on year by year, but I do not think that is a sufficient inducement for us to make a start. I look a little further ahead. I do not say that I am against the proposal if it can be shown that the State has the proper man, but no information is given as to that. It is simply stated as an academic theory that the State should do its own printing, because we are in the hands of a ring. I do not believe in the ring theory. There are any number of printers all over the country who would be glad to compete. I am not on the Committee, and I am unable to say why they do not compete. I do not see how there can be a ring among the printers in this country, and, if there is a ring against the Government, I ask why there is not a ring against commercial men. I am certain, even if there was a ring, some printer could break it down to-morrow. There is no close corporation about it. What happens at present is that certain firms have certain forms and machinery which are suitable for Government work. Certain things are set in type, and they can be used again and again. Therefore, a man who has had orders before is on more sure ground than a stranger, but there are plenty of firms which would risk a loss on the first year's contract in order to get work at a profit afterwards. I cannot assume that the State is losing by some mysterious ring of contractors who are conspiring against it. The suggestion which has been made is that there should be a Government Department managed by someone, but whom we do not know. I think that is a suggestion that ought not to be thrown out in this House.
§ Mr. DILLON
I desire to draw attention to a matter which I have raised more than once in this Committee. That is, the form in which Blue Books are published. Anyone who ever looks into Blue Books knows that they contain a [...]amount of very 1168 interesting and valuable information, and that some of them are works of permanent value, containing in many cases very expensive and wonderfully executed prints, plans and illustrations. Some years ago-there was published, at huge expense, an immense number of Blue Books on the Poor Law system of this country. Those books contain a vast quantity of extraordinarily interesting and valuable information. At the time that those Blue Books were being published I asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether it would not be as well, in view of the great interest and value of the books, to have them published in a form in which they could be read, because the present enormous Blue Books of from 500 to 1,000 pages are practically unreadable, and few people ever do read them. The Secretary to the Treasury of that day promised that he would see that the Report of the Royal Commission on the Poor Law would be published in the same form as the previous Report of the Commission on Secondary Education, which, because it was published in an ordinary handy octavo form, is on the library shelves of many Members of this House and of many persons who are interested in education, and is frequently referred to. But the promise was forgotten, and this has never been done. Another great Commission is sitting at present, which no doubt will publish a very valuable Report, which would be valuable to be consulted by thousands of medical men in this country—the Royal Commission on Venereal Diseases. That Report will, I have no doubt, contain not only enormously valuable information by all the greatest scientific men in the country, but also a vast quantity of extremely extensive and valuable illustrations, and I earnestly hope that the Secretary to the Treasury will have it published in the form of ordinary volumes. If that is done, it will be sought after by a great number of men, and will no doubt be of great value. I would urge that the Reports of all these great Commissions, which are of permanent value as distinguished from the ordinary Blue Book which is temporary, should be published in octavo form in bound volumes, so that they could be put on the shelves of our libraries' and referred to from time to time.
The hon. Member who has just spoken made a complaint about the waste of printed matter which goes on in connection with this House. I have been listening to this complaint, made in this House in 1169 equally forcible and eloquent terms, for the last thirty years. No doubt there is a vast waste of printed matter, but I do not believe that this House wastes nearly as much on printing as any other legislative assembly in the world. You cannot conduct a legislative assembly like, particularly one which controls all the proceedings of the Executive Government, without an enormous mass of printed matter. Take Congress in America—which does not do one-fourth of the work this House undertakes to do, because it has not got this great Empire to look after, and it does not control the Executive Government—and I would venture to say that the publication of the mass of printed matter there is far greater than here. An hon. Member described the experience of Members of this House going away some time and finding a great mass of books and papers awaiting them when they come back. That is a waste on their part, because if they took the trouble to go to the Vote Office and stop these Blue Books coming, of course they would stop, and this accumulation would not take place. But you cannot lay down a rule and order a Member of this House to stop the Blue Books coming if he does not wish to read them.
§ Mr. DILLON
That has been tried over and over again. We started the Pink Paper, which hon. Members receive every morning, in order to carry out that idea. It was found that hon. Members were extremely angry. The Pink Paper comes still, but in spite of that we get nearly all the publications of the House without asking for them.
§ Mr. DILLON
It is owing to the constant complaints of hon. Members who did not receive Papers, and then were told that they ought to ask for them on the Pink Paper. It is inevitable in a great machine like this House. What interests one man does not interest another man, and one particular Paper out of a dozen or fifteen is the one that you just want to see, and you are extremely angry if it is left out, and you complain to the Secretary to the Treasury, or whoever has control, and say that you have been treated in the most scandalous way, and that the Paper which you most wanted to see was 1170 not sent to you this morning. When they were referred to in the Pink Paper, hon. Members got extremely impatient and wanted to have the Papers sent. I remember myself being extremely angry on two or three occasions when I had to come and sign the Pink Paper and make inquiries for some Paper that I wanted. The result has been a gradual slipping back into the old practice of sending practically all Papers to all Members. In my opinion, when they are printed at all, the saving effected by cutting off a few Papers from a few Members is extremely trifling. I do not believe that much can be done in this way because the universal experience has been that this enormous waste of printed matter is inseparable from a great democratic Parliament. That is especially the case with a House like this, which is unique in the world, and not only undertakes to legislate for various people, but to control a world-wide Empire, and to control every operation of the Executive of the country, a function which no other House in the whole world undertakes. However, it was not to criticise the hon. Member that I rose, but to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he will kindly look into the matter to which I have directed his attention, and, if he is satisfied that I am right, give directions, that in future all really important Royal Commissions—such, for instance, as the various Irish Land Commissions—all great historical works of the utmost importance, shall be printed in octavo form. I have them all at home. They are rotting in a loft, a vast pile of them. They are works of amazing value. If they were bound in proper volumes all Irishmen or Englishmen who took an interest in that: vitally important subject would have them on his library shelves to refer to. It has frequently happened that when I wanted to refer to the Royal Commission Reports on Irish land legislation, of which there have been twenty large volumes during the last twenty years, I have gone hunting for them, and given the thing up in despair, for I have found them mouldering away and really unfit to be handled. I think that that is a reform which the-Secretary to the Treasury might safely undertake.
§ Mr. BOWERMAN
The hon. Member for Pontefract complained that no suggestions had been made for future economy, though I think that the Chairman did explain that certain economics had been made. He then proceeded to 1171 destroy, or attempt to destroy, the very important suggestion of the Committee with regard to a very great economy that might be effected, assuming that the House later on agreed to the establishment of a State printing office. Of course, there is bound to be a diversity of opinion on this point, but I would draw attention to this fact, that several years ago the House decided to have its own reporting staff, and, as the result of that, substantial economy has been effected. I am not so much concerned about economy as about the welfare of those who have to do the work. I submit that before this House had its own reporting staff the men who were employed by a contractor were discharged year after year at a period of the year when it was impossible for those men to secure other engagements, and they were therefore kept three or four months, or longer, according to the length of the recess, idle in the market place nearly all the time; whereas under the present system those gentlemen are secured in their employment, and they have not to face the recess with the feeling of probable unemployment. Coupled with that we have the fact that an economy has been effected. I hope that that little incident will be sufficient to insure the support of the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London when this proposal for the establishment of a State printing office comes on. Why should this subject be be approached in any spirit of animosity? There are at present ten or a dozen printing offices set up in Government Departments, but they are not Government printing offices. They are simply installed in Government premises. They are run by contractors, and neither the House nor the Stationery Office can exercise any control over their work.
My hon. Friend the Member for Norwich has referred to the question of extra payments by this House through the Stationery Office for confidential work. May I say that it is the contracting firm that gets the benefit of that payment for confidential work, and not the men who are called upon to produce that work? That should not prevail. If there was a State printing office, I take it that, if there was any extra payment for confidential work, the House would desire that the men who did the work, the men responsible for keeping their mouths closed and not imparting the information outside the office, would be the people to get the benefit 1172 of that extra payment. At present the money which is a recognised payment goes into the pockets of the contractors, and those working men who, to their credit be it said, have never been found guilty of imparting information or breaking the confidence reposed in them, do not get a brass farthing of extra payment. May I say a word now with regard to contractors holding big contracts doing portions of their work outside London? They go to places where there is no other printing establishment, where there are no industries except agriculture, and they start a large office and set up their own standard of wage. They are able to get labour, female labour particularly, very cheap, and I ask this House how the contractor, doing his work under those circumstances, can be said to be complying with the Fair-Wages Clause of this House. As I understand that Clause, it was the recognition of the standard rate of wage. The Stationery Office by its method of allowing this work to be undertaken by these particular contractors is unconsciously enabling them to evade the spirit and intention of the Clause passed by this House. I want to emphasise the point raised by the hon. Member for Norwich, and ask the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he would be good enough to inquire very closely into this matter in Order to see if it is not possible to insist that these particular contractors shall conform literally, in spirit and intention, to the Clause, which has taken up a lot of the time of the House, and which eventually, I think by common consent, was placed upon the Minutes of the House. One word with regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth) as to the abandonment of the Division Lists published with the Votes and Proceedings. Those lists, so far as I know, have been running for many years, and have been found extremely useful. I do not express any opinion on the printing of the daily part—it is very good—but for the Division Lists the type is small, and men who are getting on in years perhaps do not care about it. I would suggest, therefore, that it is worthy of reconsideration whether the present system of issuing the large type Division Lists, where you can see the names at a glance, and as it were read as you run, should not be retained. I submit that the point is one well worthy of reconsideration by hon. Members.
I hope that the House will agree to the proposal of a State printing office, and 1173 give it a trial, not on any small scale, nor on any niggardly scale. A very considerable sum is spent on printing, and surely some of it could with advantage be given to a State printing office, if only for the reason, apart from other considerations, that it would secure continuity of employment as against the present system in the trade. When this House rises there may be any number of men, from 150 to 300 thrown upon the streets—just as it was with the reporting staff years ago—and thrown upon the streets at a time when it is impossible or next to impossible to get employment. I take it that one of the objects of a State printing office would be to so regulate the work—and you have got plenty to select from—as to ensure continuous employment of the staff, and from that point of view alone, 30 far as the arguments are concerned, the proposal should commend itself to hon. Members, and I very sincerely trust that this aspect of the case will commend itself to hon. Members who at present do not see eye to eye with the Committee in their recommendations.
§ Major DALRYMPLE WHITE
Reference has been made to the large increase in the clerical staff, a circumstance which is all the more noteworthy because the increase in the clerical staff is very much greater in proportion than the increase, apparently, of those who do the manual work of the office. If "we look at the assistant warehousemen, the increase is from twenty-eight to thirty; in the second division clerks it is from twenty-eight to thirty-five; printing clerks, eighteen to twenty-five; assistant clerks, twenty-eight to forty-three. The appointment of clerks apparently has become an absolute disease with the present Government, and I think we ought to know why it is so disproportionate to other classes of appointments. (Jan the hon. Gentleman give any explanation why the "Dublin Gazette" costs far more for printing and paper than, for instance, the "Edinburgh Gazette," the proceeds from the sale of which is over £3,000, while the printing only costs £493. The "Dublin Gazette" brings in only £833 instead of £3,000, and the printing of the "Dublin Gazette" is £730 instead of £493. With regard to the question of the Blue Books sent round with the Votes and Proceedings, I think a great number are sent to Members that are absolutely unnecessary. White Papers, Estimates, and similar documents are of course very necessary to hon. Members, but Blue 1174 Books on every sort of subject are not required by Members, and if they are they can perfectly well take the trouble to fill up the Pink Paper and send for what they require.
I submit that there is not one Member out of fifty who looks at the Blue Books which are sent to him, and they are simply sent straight to the wastepaper basket. They not only cost the country a lot of money, but they give the housemaids a great deal of work in clearing the waste-paper baskets. With regard to the Division Lists, I certainly join with those who have said that it would not be right to abandon sending them round with the Votes. Everyone knows that the OFFICIAL REPORT is not regarded as having the same official character as the Votes and Proceedings printed on blue paper and sent to hon. Members, and for that reason, if for no other, I think that the Division Lists ought to be continued The hon. Member for Pontefract alluded to the fact that the lists were very useful, and I am perfectly certain that they are, for I find that he did me the honour in my Constituency of referring to some of the votes I have given in the House of Commons. I have no doubt that other hon. Members find these Division Lists equally useful. I think the question of the Blue Books is a matter where economies might be practised, and if Members are so idle that they will not take the trouble to fill up the Pink Paper asking for the Blue Books they require, then they ought not to have any at all.
§ Sir WILLIAM BYLES
I want to add a word to what has been said by other hon. Members, to the effect that there must be a great deal of extravagance and waste in the Vote which we are now asked to pass. I do not like waste, and I do not think any of us want it, nor do we wish to be too rigid in economy, but the sum which the Vote asks strikes me as too much to spend for printing, paper, binding, and so on. I have been looking into the details, and I see that the salaries have gone up nearly £6,000. I hope my hon. Friend in charge of this Estimate will explain how that has come to pass. Other expenses show a large increase, and one a very large decrease. There is an increase of £18,000 in the expenditure for printing and yet a decrease of £31,000 in the paper printed upon. I presume that comes from the fact that a large stock of paper was already in hand. I want to emphasise the fact that my own observation—and I ask other Members whether their observation 1175 does not confirm mine—convinces me that in many of the public Departments, and especially in the printing that is done for the House of Commons itself, there is a great deal of waste. The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite I think found a mare's-nest when he spoke of the encumbrance of all the Blue Books which are sent round to hon. Members, and in many of which they take little or no interest. He referred to the Pink Paper. I believe that unless a Member orders his books to be sent to him—every Member has the right to have them all—he will not have any excepting those which he enters upon the Pink Paper. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] Is not that so "No doubt my hon. Friend will explain what the rule is, but I think I am not very far wrong. I believe that unless a Member desires to have all the Papers issued he will not get them unless he enters them upon the Pink Paper. A great economy was effected by the introduction of that Pink Paper about twenty years ago, and other economies of a similar character, I am quite certain, might easily be effected. I went to get a a copy of the Journal, which is a huge volume that one can hardly lift, but I see that another Member has borrowed it. He might hold it up and exhibit it. It is an enormous volume of nearly 1,000 pages, and I undertake to say that no one reads it, and that it is an absolute waste; it is of no use to anybody, and is a survival. It is not only the printing and the paper of which it consists which has to be taken into consideration, but there is an office and a staff of clerks who prepare it and bring it up to date day by day. I will undertake to say that it is practically of no use to anybody in the wide world, except perhaps someone occasionally in the British Museum.
But I did not get up to make complaints at all to my hon. Friend; I only wish to ask him whether he will consider what steps can be taken for a thorough overhauling of the Papers issued to Members of the House. In regard to the Blue Papers sent every morning to Members, how much of them is waste? I make a practice of looking through mine every day—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"]—with more or less care, or nearly every day. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] That cheer confirms my observation that these Papers are not read, and I will undertake to say that there are not 10 per cent. of Members of this House who go 1176 carefully through their Papers every morning. I do not want to accuse anybody, and all I can say is I hope they do go through their Papers. All through our arrangements here, without specifying details. I do suggest that a careful consideration of what might be continued and discontinued would lead to some rather serious economies. Everyone, I am quite sure, must be conscious of the way in which Papers, that we have neither the time nor the opportunity to consider and that we do not really care to-read, or in which we do not take any particular interest, accumulate in our houses. I have a very small house and library, and I find that that house is getting almost overwhelmed with the accumulation of Parliamentary Papers. I have bought a large wastepaper basket, but it would require to be bigger and bigger every year. I find it, the most useful article of furniture which a Member of Parliament can have. I beg to thank, on my own behalf, the hon. Member for Bury (Sir G. Toulmin) for the excellent service which he is rendering as Chairman of the Publications and Debates Reports Committee. There are other members of that Committee present to whom I think our best thanks are also due. I believe that further great and useful results may come from that. Committee. The expenditure of public money, not only on printing, but in all Departments, is not sufficiently watched, or not vigilantly enough safeguarded, and I think it is the duty of Members of Parliament not to be narrow economists, for I do not ask them to be that, but to realise that the money which is being spent is money which is taken out of the pockets, very often, of the poor taxpayer.
§ Mr. BOYTON
I hope that the Secretary to the Treasury in his reply will not respond favourably to the blandishments which have been held out to him by the Labour Members for the purpose of setting up a State printing department. That would add to the trouble which the hon. Gentleman must already have in dealing with State employés in many phases, and particularly with regard to applications constantly made for improvement in position and in wages. I "would also anticipate that there would be considerable difficulties in the way of setting up a State printing department, because I take it that during the Session of this House much of this printed matter has to be produced under great pressure, but should the House resort to the old practice 1177 of adjourning in August and reassembling in February then I rather wonder what the State printing department would have to do in the meantime. One hon. Member suggested that there would be continuity employment. That would be at the expense of the State, because during the Recess there would be very little printing to be done. Remarks have been made as to the printers. I do not suppose those Government printers are culprits, but some other printers are held out as culprits because they send printing away to the provinces where perhaps the conditions compelled by trade unions and other organisations are not quite so stringent, and, perhaps, where the Factory Acts are not quite so stringent, and where the employers are able to get the work done on their own terms, on fair conditions, and with less interference by strikes. Continuity of employment cannot, I think, be guaranteed by any State Department in this particular matter. It is surely better to have printers at your hand, who are able to let you have your requirements with the quickest possible dispatch, rather than that you should have a department set up which would be five months idle. There are other considerations. If you create this printing department, you would be adding another branch to the Civil Service, and everybody, from the porter at the door to the master hand, would be a Civil servant, and would want State superannuation and State medical attendance, and other things thrown in, and you would have the many demands which are made on the Government through the various Departments. Therefore, I think, that the setting up of a department like that of printing would be a calamity to which, I hope, the right hon. Gentleman will not agree to.
§ Mr. ROBERT HARCOURT
There was one observation which fell from the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) which appeared to me to be a very valuable suggestion, and that was that Blue Rooks, or, rather, Reports of Royal Commissions, should be issued in less unwieldy form. When I heard that suggestion there came into my mind a recent instance in which it was put into practice, and that was in the very important case of the Report of the Poor Law Commission. In addition to issuing the Report in the unwieldy form of a volume six or eight inches thick, it was also issued in three very convenient little octavo volumes. I would like to know whether the smaller octavo form was 1178 placed on the Pink Paper and made available to Members in the ordinary way, or whether it was only placed on sale at Wyman's and the other establishments. The question is an interesting one, and I should like to know from my hon. Friend whether he can give us any information as to whether that publication in that octavo form was a financial success, and whether it is possible to follow it in the future?
§ Mr. R. HARCOURT
Yes, like them. The hon. Member for Southport (Major White) complained of the fact that Members did not read the Reports of the Consul from Timbuctu or somewhere else. That is, I think, an instance in which the Member of Parliament would have to give notice through the Pink Paper. It is also true that there are certain classes of Papers which we have got to have whether we like them or not, such as the Paper relating to the Irish Command. That, is the class of Paper no one objects to, and which every Member would desire to get at the earliest possible opportunity, and it would be very inconvenient to have to come down specially to the House in order to get such Papers. In addition to that, there are other Papers—although I am not sure, and I am asking for information—such as Reports of Royal Commissions, which are sent to every Member without exception. We do not get Reports of Select Committees. I should be glad if my hon. Friend would say why we must necessarily have issued every Report of a Royal Commission to Members of Parliament, and whether they could not be put on the Pink Paper.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I think the White Papers are always sent round with the Votes. I should like to ask what are the regulations with regard to the Pink Paper, because there does not seem to be any particular rule governing the matter. Occasionally Papers come with the Votes, and other Papers of the same kind are only obtained on application through the Pink Paper. There was one point raised by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) with reference to this question of the Pink Paper. As a result of a discussion on this Vote in former years it was decided that all Papers except actual Votes and Proceedings should be obtained by means of the Pink Paper. The hon. Member said that that was given up because Members 1179 were extremely angry that they had difficulty in obtaining some Papers. I suggest that that was an insufficient reason for giving up that practice, which, I think, would really save tons of printed matter being sent around. I should have thought a simple way out of this difficulty would be to put everything on the Pink Paper, with the exception of Votes and Proceedings—that is to say, Estimates and everything else—while perhaps White Papers might be sent round, but everything else would have to be applied for. Estimates like these are sent around, but they are hardly ever read, but if an hon. Member does look at them he comes down to the House and he gets another copy. There might also be some rule as to the number of copies of the Estimates. At present, I think, there is some limit—between six and twelve. What often happens, showing the lavish way in which hon. Members deal with printed matter placed at their disposal by a grateful country, is that, having got a copy of the Estimates out of the Votes Office, hon. Members read it and leave it somewhere, perhaps in the Lobby or in the Library, and immediately go and apply for another copy. It would be quite a simple thing to give instructions to the clerks in the Vote Office not to supply hon. Members with more than two copies of the Estimates in the House itself.
I suggest that everything should be placed on the Pink Paper, except Votes and Proceedings and White Papers, which as a rule are published to deal with some emergency which has arisen. I cannot see that the hardship of which the hon. Member for East Mayo complained is a very serious one. If hon. Members are so slack as not to fill in the Pink Paper and sign their names, they should not be encouraged to have printed matter of any kind. I think it is generally agreed in this rather useful discussion that there is an enormous waste of printed matter. For ten years I have attended most of these discussions and year after year the same complaint is made, and nothing has been done to really reduce this sum of £1,069,272. The hon. Member for East Mayo gave us an interesting account of what took place in the American House of Representatives, which he said had to deal with less important issues and had a very much heavier printing bill. I am not quite sure that I can accept that. I think there are a hundred millions of people in the United States, and while it 1180 is difficult to get a comparison, because of our self-governing Dominions, in which there is very little printed matter published, I think probably the matters there are just as important as in this House. I do not think that what happens in other Chambers is any reason why our printing bill should be so enormous here. There was one other thing mentioned by the hon. Member for East Mayo with which I most heartily agree, and that is, as to the manner in which Blue Books are got up. There is no doubt of the fact, as he stated, that many Blue Books repay study and are worth keeping, and are often of deep human interest to anyone who studies the affairs of the British Empire. What happens at present is when one receives those Blue Books they are put away, and even though in the most admirable bookcase and in a dry house you will find that in a year or two the cover has crumbled away and the book is altogether different from the condition in which is was received.
I suggest that without very much extra cost Blue Books might be bound in that form of stiff binding that is used for the copies of the Army (Annual) Bill. I do not think it is used for any other form of publication that we have in this House. It is a thin cardboard, which would enable the books to be put away in a bookcase, which at present is almost an impossibility. This small reform would add little, if anything, to the cost, and it would make the Blue Books much more convenient. Another point in connection with Blue Books is that there is no space between the matter dealing with different subjects, as there would be between two chapters in an ordinary publication. They are, too, often badly indexed. Having regard to the importance of the matter frequently dealt with in Blue Books, their get-up leaves very much to be desired, In regard to Sub-head "I"—"Books and Maps for Public Departments," to what maps does that refer? Does it refer to the Ordnance Survey maps of this country, or to maps of different parts of the British Empire? The provision of maps to Government offices is most necessary, having regard to the fact that on a famous occasion when the question of a certain place came up at a Cabinet meeting a Member of the Liberal Administration believed it to be in the South Sea Islands. I have not found any provision in this Vote for the actual surveying, so perhaps I ought to raise the point on another occasion. I want to ask whether maps for different 1181 parts of the Dependencies in Africa are available, and, if so, whether they can be copied by private map-making firms. The reason I ask is that the other day I endeavoured to obtain maps of two of our Colonies in Africa. I was given a map which was utterly inaccurate, and I was told that there was no Government map, or that if there was there was no opportunity for making use of it. I suggest that if there are maps of different parts of the Empire they might be put at the disposal of cartographers, and facilities provided in that direction.
§ Sir WALTER ESSEX
I do not want to go into small points which might well be left to the Committee which has charge of these matters. I cannot help feeling that the whole system in regard to Blue Books ought to be carefully reviewed. The present system dates back to the time when men had greater leisure, and these books could be spread out on a library table and read quietly. The time has come for the embodiment of the information contained in Blue Books in volumes of an octavo or similar form so that they could be carried about in one's bag and studied at odd moments. At any rate, they would always be far more available than they are at present. I make this criticism very seriously. The information contained in Blue Books is often thoroughly well worth preserving, but to a large extent it is lost because of the antique and cumbrous method in which the books are bound. During the years I have been a Member I have watched the growth of the shelves in this House with a great deal of amused interest, as I have speculated how long this building will be able to provide shelving accommodation for the steady increase of literature which is being piled up literally by the ton every year. Those who refer to the old records of this House, as I have done, will, I think, agree that the old type of printing and the old paper used are of a more enduring character than is the case at the present day, and that books a century old on the shelves of this House will be useful and readable books when the great mass of the wood pulp paper books which are being piled on the shelves year by year have passed into dust and illegibility.
Although my hon. Friend has doubtless got his speech completed, and will probably take no notice of my suggestion, I hope that even if he does not think it worthy of a reply, he will, out of the large measure of courtesy which he possesses, 1182 allow it to make some impression upon his mind. In view of the large range of fine thin opaque papers now on the market, I suggest that a certain number of copies of Blue Books for reference purposes, for Government offices, and possibly for the British Museum, should be printed on thin opaque paper, which may reasonably be expected to endure for centuries if need be, which will occupy a very small space indeed, and which, if the volumes are bound in a decent binding, will last for years to come. I would suggest that we should not be to meticulous in our pursuit of economy in this matter. Printers' ink in any business undertaking is not all waste, and in a gigantic business undertaking, such as is controlled from the floor of this House, reaching out in an infinite variety of ramifications over the wide world, we may easily be penny wise and pound foolish in this matter. Therefore, my plea is for an intensification of the quality, durability, handiness, and accessibility of our literature, and that I have no doubt my hon. Friend will bear carefully in mind.
§ Mr. SANDYS
There is a rather alarming reference in the Estimates in connection with the "London Gazette"—"Clerk of the late 'London Gazette' Office." The "London Gazette" is a publication of great importance and interest, and I hope that that note does not refer to any suspension of publication. I wish to associate myself with the remarks made by the hon. Member who initiated this Debate in reference to the lady typists. It seems to me that the salary paid to these ladies is rather inadequate. I think it is specially incumbent upon hon. Members who, like myself, are very strongly opposed to Woman Suffrage, never to lose an opportunity of insisting that women under the control of Government Departments should get a proper wage.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Montagu)
I wish to reply at once to the very impressive and valuable speech made by my hon. Friend (Sir Walter Essex) in reference to the paper upon which Government publications are printed. I will, of course, look into the matter, but my information is that all official publications are printed on paper which is very different from what is described as mechanical wood pulp, and will last indefinitely. Therefore, I think my hon. Friend's fears are not well founded The hon. Member for East 1183 Edinburgh (Mr. J. Hogge) was anxious about the hours worked by the typists in the employ of the Stationery Office. They work seven hours a day. It is not easy to compare the conditions of labour in Government offices with the conditions outside, because of the questions of leave, superannuation, and so forth; but I do not think that there is any reason to suppose that the condition of typists in Government offices is worse than that of typists elsewhere.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
Yes. With regard to waste, I think the hon. Member for East Edinburgh mistook an Appropriation-in-Aid for an item of cost. This waste is a very economical process of collecting waste paper from Government offices and selling it under contract, for which we get this sum of £7,000. The hon. Member asked about the contracts for printing, and how long they lasted. They last seven years, as a result of a recommendation of the Publications Committee that the period should be shortened. I think we always get enough competition to ensure a good placing of our printing contracts. We get more competition now that the form of tender has been revised, also as a result of a recommendation of the Publications Committee. The hon. Member further asked how the notepaper of the House of Commons compared with the notepaper in Government Departments generally. I have written letters both in the House of Commons and in Government Departments, but I have never detected any difference in the excellence of the stationery supplied. I ought to warn hon. Members who are interested in the cause of economy that the existing stock of House of Commons and House of Lords notepaper is, I am informed, coming to an end, and it is then proposed—I am sure this will receive the enthusiastic support of everybody—to substitute a cheaper kind of paper. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"]
§ Earl WINTERTON
Will the right hon. Gentleman sec that the new paper supplied is of the shining kind; it is much easier to write on than the very rough?
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I think the Committee will see how difficult it is to pursue economy! The hon. Member for East Edinburgh asked some questions about "Who's Who," etc. We also supply peerages, and other similar books that the Stationery Office supplies—and this reply answers the question of the Noble Lord opposite as to the books and documents supplied to the various public Departments. Roughly speaking, and subject to strict Treasury control, the Stationery Office supplies the various Departments with the books they ask for. That includes books of reference on the peerage, "Who's Who?" etc. We also supply Bibles and Prayer Books for the Army and Navy. We supply library books for the use of the men on His Majesty's ships and for those in His Majesty's prisons. We supply maps that the various Government Departments ask for—such maps as they require in the usual exercise of their functions. These are nearly all bought; the preparation of them does not come in this Vote. I will make further inquiries as to the Noble Lord's questions and let him know the result.
As regards free volumes, a certain number of free copies of Parliamentary issues are sent regularly to the free libraries of the country, and I do not know that anybody would wish to stop that. Every effort is made to distribute the printing given out by the Stationery Office so that a portion of it falls into the slack season of the year—that is to say, between July and September. For that period about £10,000 is set aside for different purposes. The hon. Member for East Nottingham (Sir J. D. Rees) wanted to know something about the increase in the staff. I venture to suggest to the Committee that we have reason to congratulate ourselves really and truly on the fact that the Stationery Office has come into very little criticism this afternoon. My predecessor in 1912 said that "the work of the Stationery Office was carried on without a flaw of any kind. …" I think the same holds good to-day. Certain points have been brought to the notice of the Committee. Still, taken as a whole, speaker after speaker has got up and said with respect to the Stationery Office that it does its work very well indeed. I would also further point out, for the satisfaction of those who are searching for economy, that the total of this Vote shows a net decrease of £8,436.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
Perhaps the hon. Baronet would like it much better if the Estimate had showed an increase and not a decrease? In regard to the staff it must be remembered by the House of Commons, and the country generally, that they are responsible indirectly. If Members introduce Bills, if this House passes Acts of Parliament, it increases the staff in the various Departments, and that increase is reflected in the Stationery Office and all through the public services. It is such Acts as the Insurance Act, the Old Age Pension Acts, the Labour Exchanges Act, that account to a very large extent for the increase in the staff which appears in these Estimates. In reply to another query of the hon. Member for East Nottingham as to the exact cost, the hon. Member will see that there has been a certain amount of rearrangement. There has been an increase, it is quite true, in some grades of the clerks, but the assistant heads of branches have disappeared altogether. There has been a rearrangement of offices which meant some decrease, but against that an increase must be set. There has been a general rise in the cost of the staff, I admit, because there has been a general increase in the staff to cope with modern requirements. There is another reason for the increase of staff. The newer contracts are somewhat more complicated than the old. They are drawn with a view to obtaining greater economy, and in a?More particular manner; therefore the technical staff of the Stationery Office has had to be increased so as to be able to inspect the contracts more carefully.
I come to the speech of the hon. Member for Bury (Sir George Toulmin). I should like, if I may, to re-echo the words of thanks which have been repeated through the afternoon to those Members of the Committee over which the hon. Member presides for the extremely valuable work that has been done by the Committee. Much economy will result from careful attention to the recommendations of that Committee which the Stationery Office has always, I think, shown. I do not want to trouble the Committee now, but if hon. Members will look at the Report of the Committee in 1912, and again in 1913, and note the recommendations which the Committee made, and see how many of them have already been carried out by the Stationery Office, it will be not only a satisfaction to those who have worked upon the Committee, but also a: good augury for the carrying out of any 1186 recommendations that the Committee may have to make in the future. That brings me to a very difficult question of printing by the Government itself which has been suggested in this Debate. Fortunately, I am relieved from making up my mind and from expressing any opinion on the subject at the moment, because, although the Chairman and one hon. Member of the Committee have expressed their intention of reporting in favour of it, and although so far as I know no Member of the Committee has expressed his opinion of voting against the recommendation to inquire, we have not yet received the Report of the Publications Committee on the subject. All I can say is that I understand that the change that the hon. Member has in mind is not that we should undertake all our printing. That is a question which has already been considered, and has already been dismissed as unwise and impracticable. The suggestion is made in order that the Stationery Office may control better and keep their expert assistants up-to-date, so as to lessen the expense of what I may call exceptional printing, for which it is difficult to get many tenders, and which there is some reason to believe the Stationery Office could do cheaper. If this idea materialises in the Report of the Publications Committee I can promise the hon. Member it will be given very careful consideration. Many hon. Members have spoken about the number of publications which Members of the House of Commons get, and of the economy that could be effected by finding some other means of distributing these publications. The suggestion of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) it seemed to me was a very good one about a convenient size for Blue Books. He will remember, as my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose said, that the Majority Report and the Minority Report of the Poor Law Commission were published in octavo size and are now on sale, and I believe have been successful. I will gladly go further, if possible, in this matter. I am informed that the present printing is cheaper, and that the printing in octavo form is a somewhat expensive proceeding; but, if it is for the general convenience, if there is a general demand for Blue Books in the form mentioned, especially when it is of permanent value, I think I may say, without committing myself without further inquiry—
§ Mr. DILLON
I only made the suggestion in relation to the more valuable and 1187 important Blue Books that have permanent value, not those dealing with temporary subjects. Those which are not of permanent value are good enough as they are.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
If we publish Blue Books at all, it is well that they should be published in a form in which they can be conveniently used. I am very much obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman for his suggestion. The hon. Member for Guildford raised a question which has already come before me at the Treasury, and that is, that every Member serving on a Committee of the House of Commons, who applies for it, should be furnished with a case for his Papers. He thought that that could be done very cheaply. I do not think that that is a suggestion with which the Stationery Office ought to comply. The cheapest box that you could possibly get would cost something like 6s., and the number of boxes that might be required is almost indefinite. After all, every Member of Parliament has got his locker, and Members of Parliament have got their neat little brown cases with which they walk about the Lobbies. I do not really think that the demand would justify the expense. Two hon. Members raised the point of the Fair-Wages Clause in Government contracts. It is intended that the Stationery Office should insist upon the observance of the Fair-Wages Resolution both in the letter and in the spirit. I hope I shall have assent when I say that the record of the Stationery Office has been a very good one in the past, but I shall only be too glad to receive and communicate with those concerned any examples, or allegations, that require investigation of a breach of the Fair-Wages Resolution on the part of any of the contractors for Government printing. I will inquire into the case of Dunstable, although I do not suppose the hon. Member (Mr. Bowerman) wishes to suggest that the conditions which apply at a branch establishment should be the same as those that apply in London? I really cannot find that there has been any breach of the Fair-Wages Resolution.
§ Mr. BOWERMAN
Will the right hon. Gentleman inquire how it is that in these two particular districts no trade unionists are employed: is not that a violation of the Fair-Wages Resolution?
§ Mr. MONTAGU
It would be a violation of the spirit of the Fair-Wages Resolution if preferential treatment and penalising treatment were given either to members 1188 or non-members of trade unions. But I shall certainly inquire into the allegation, and perhaps the hon. Member will assist me with a few more details. I think I have covered a majority of the points in what can be really described as an interesting, though discursive, Debate.
§ Earl WINTERTON
Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down will he deal with my suggestion that the Blue Books should be bound in some stiff binding? This suggestion I would venture to apply not only to those Blue Books to which the hon. and learned Member for East Mayo referred, but to others. I suggest that they might be bound in the same material as the Army (Annual) Bill. I do not think it would add to the cost.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I apologise to the Noble Lord for having forgotten that point. This also is a question upon which I will consult the officials. The Noble Lord asked me a question as to what Papers are distributed to Members of Parliament, and as to what Papers it was necessary to wait for the signature of Members on the Pink Paper for. Certain Papers go to Members of Parliament automatically, like the Votes and Proceedings. The White Paper which was issued last night is marked for delivery to all Members by the Department on whose behalf it is issued. I have listened with very great attention as Secretary to the Treasury to the suggestions-which hon. Members have made for reducing the output of Papers to Members of Parliament, though it docs not, strictly speaking, come within the Stationery Office Vote; but it is a matter, I understand, upon which the Publications Committee can advise the authorities of the House of Commons, and it is a matter upon which the Treasury may make suggestions for the curtailment of the expenditure.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I do not know why it is. There are three separate contracts, one for the "London Gazette," one for the "Dublin Gazette," and one for the "Edinburgh Gazette." There is an amount in Appropriations ii-Aid set against the cost in the way of stamps and so on, but I will make further inquiries. Perhaps if the hon. Gentleman will put down a question I will get the facts.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I beg to move, to reduce Item E (Printing for Public Departments) by £28,000.
The hon. Gentleman has said that if the Committee recommended that a small departure should be made in the direction of setting up a Government printing department it will have his careful consideration. That does not mean very much, I am glad to say, and therefore I will not pursue that subject further, except to call attention to the remarks of the hon. Member opposite who said that although the difficulty is in the commencement in setting up a printing department in a small way, it should be remembered that it should be set up in such a way that if it proved a success it could be extended. It is, however, a bad principle. People who come forward desiring to set up a bad thing always commence in a small way, and they endeavour to get sympathy from their opponents by saying that "it is such a little thing," and then the moment they have got the little thing, they say "it is going to grow," and they say, "You see how it has turned out, and you have adopted the principle when you agreed to start this little infant." Therefore I hope that the careful consideration the hon. Gentleman is going to give this matter will not lead him into the great mistake of starting another State Department. Item E, on which I move this reduction, is an item for £378,000 devoted to printing for public Departments. It will be found on page 115, and shows an increase of £18,000 upon the previous year's expenditure. Now the hon. Member forgot, I think inadvertently, to answer the question which was put to him by the hon. Member for Salford, who pointed out that while this item had increased from £360,000 to £378,000, at the same time the next item, which is paper to public Departments, had decreased by £31,000, and he asked how it was that the cost of printing increased while the cost of paper decreased?
§ Mr. MONTAGU
The hon. Gentleman himself suggested the answer when he said that there was paper in stock which might be used, and I nodded assent to it.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
That does answer my question, but that does not touch the fact that the printing has increased by £18,000. If hon. Members will turn to page 120 they will see that in the year 1910–11 the total of printing for England 1190 was £233,794. In the year 1911–12 printing had increased to £265,356, and in the year 1912–13 it had increased to £344,067. Then in the year 1914 it had increased to £360,000, and this year it has increased still further to £378,000—that is to say, in four years it has increased from £233,794 to £378,000. It may be that I ought to have included the total for England and Ireland, but that makes a small amount of difference. But if I take the whole figures the expenditure in 1910–11 was £257,000, instead of £233,794, but in any case there is an increase of £112,000 for printing alone in four years. I think, to a certain extent, the answer is supplied by the hon. Member for Bury and by the Secretary to the Treasury himself. He said if this House puts upon the Stationery Department increased work in the shape of expenditure for Labour Exchanges and for the insurance committees, the Committee must not grumble at the expenditure. I am not sure that that is a good argument. I think if the Government bring in measures which the public do not understand, and if it is necessary to spend large sums of money in order to make the public understand the benefits of a measure which is doing them a great deal of harm, and in order to convince them that what is doing them harm is doing them good, it is right that we should raise our voices in this House against such wasteful expenditure. Let measures stand by themselves. Let the Government come forward and say plainly, "We must spend all this money, which is the money of the taxpayers, and which affects people of divergent opinions, in order to make people think that they are getting something nice, in order to make them think that instead of getting a penny they are getting a shilling, and that instead of getting something bad they are getting something good, and we must print all these leaflets and circulars and variety of documents." And, therefore, I move this Amendment to reduce this sum by £28,000, so as to make the amount £350,000.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth) is not in his place, because if he were probably as an advocate of economy he would vote with me, if he heard my argument, whereas I am afraid now, when he comes into the House he will be laid hold of by one of the Whips and induced to go into the wrong Lobby. There are many hon. Members opposite who will agree with me that this expenditure is wasteful and extravagant. I am 1191 quite certain, if the positions were reversed, and if we were sitting upon the Government side of the House, and if we proposed to spend large sums of money in advancing our measures, we should have a tremendous amount of criticism from these hon. Gentlemen opposite. I am sure the hon. Member for East Northampton would come down with tons of figures proving this, that, and the other, and that we were absolutely wrong, and that all our papers and all our statistics were quite wrong.
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
Is the hon. Baronet aware that some of the most important Papers are not printed and circulated to Members at all. Not even the Treasury accounts are in print for the benefit of hon. Members of this House, and, therefore, he ought to wish for increased Papers.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The hon. Member must know it is not in my power to move to increase the Vote, even if I wished to do so. The hon. Member has advanced a very strong argument for supporting me, and I do not see how he can do anything else but support me after the interruption he has made. He says there are certain things that ought to be included. I rather think there is valuable information which ought to be given to hon. Members of this House and other people, and if the hon. Gentleman votes with me he will be voting to leave out that which is wrong, which will enable us to put in that which is right. Therefore, I hope I have convinced the hon. Member and that he will be found in the Lobby with me when we come to a Division. Speaking quite seriously, I think it is not right that large sums of money should be spent by the State in advancing the doctrines of any particular party.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must point out that the hon. Baronet is raising a question of policy controlled by another Department, and which could be criticised upon another Vote, namely, the Insurance Vote.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I will not allude to it any further except to say that perhaps 1192 the hon. Member opposite is right in saying that it does not advance the interests of his party, but at the same time it is costing the nation a considerable amount of money, and therefore I move this reduction of Item E.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I really think that the remark made from the Chair is the answer to the hon. Baronet's speech. It is not quite fair because the hon. Member disapproves of something which the Stationery Office carries on on behalf of another Department, that he should move a reduction on the Stationery Office Vote, because he has no opportunity this afternoon of moving a reduction in connection with that other Department. I should like to tell the hon. Baronet that the increase this year is not due to insurance leaflets. There are cards and documents to be printed which cannot by any stretch of the imagination be said to be for party interests.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I based my opening remarks upon the fact that this item has increased from £257,000 to £378,000, and therefore there is an enormous increase which I think is not justified.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I think the proper place to object is upon the Votes for the Department for which the work is done.
§ Earl W1NTERTON
Has not the hon. Gentleman's Department power now, when another Department comes to it and says, "We want so much matter to be printed," to refuse them?
§ Mr. MONTAGU
The Treasury is constantly waging war with a view to controlling that expenditure, but it is a very difficult matter. The real offenders are Members of Parliament, who seem to have an insatiable appetite for Returns, and really there is no more dangerous man to meet in the Lobby than the man who has just been refused a Return from motives of economy. Part of this increase is due to the fact that some new contracts running from year to year contain payments for composition which will not occur as the years go on, and therefore it may be hoped in that respect there will be a saving.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I understand that the Stationery Office has a right to refuse this printing. My hon. Friend's intention is to try and reduce the enormous amount of printing for public Departments, and 1193 he has been met by the argument that if you want to reduce the amount of printing you should do it on the Vote connected with the Department concerned. I understand that the Department we are now dealing with has a right to refuse printing which in the opinion of the head of the Stationery Department is excessive. What we are pressing for quite seriously is that the Department whose Vote we are now discussing should not accede to every request made for printing matter. While you, Mr. Chairman, have ruled that questions connected with insurance have nothing to do with this Vote, I think we can urge that if a Department comes down and says we wish to have some leaflets printed on the subject of swine fever in connection with the Board of Agriculture I think we have a right to demand, in view of the enormous increase in this Vote, that these demands should be very carefully scrutinised, and the Stationery Office should point out to those particular Departments the increasing cost of printing. With regard to hon. Members demanding Returns, I should think the amount for that purpose is only a very small part of this increase, and I believe it will be found on examination that most of this increase is in connection with Departments explaining their policy.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I would like to point out to the hon. Baronet opposite that there would be just as much common sense in case we were discussing the railway trains on one of our main lines, and the printing bill for the Railway Guide was refused, as to decline to pay a stationery bill because we disagree with some Department on a matter of policy.
§ Sir JOHN SPEAR
It seems to me that there is a great waste of expenditure in duplicating the Reports issued to this House. We get a little Blue Book, which is a very valuable epitome of the work accomplished each day. We get that in the morning, but at the same time we get a duplication of the information through the other Papers. Surely there is no need for duplication—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I wish to remind the hon. Member that that point has been 1194 raised already four or five times, and it is not desirable to repeat it.
§ Sir J. SPEAR
I was not aware that the point had been raised I am a very regular attendant in this House. I spend generally twelve hours a day here, but I feel strongly that there is a waste of public money in this connection, and not knowing that this point had been raised I felt it my duty to point it out. I believe this is a useless waste of public money, and much economy might be effected by avoiding this duplication.
§ Mr. SANDYS
I think this Debate has been one of an exceptionally interesting and useful character, chiefly because hon. Members opposite have taken part in the Debate and contributed some very useful speeches. The point which was raised by the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London with regard to the necessity of a reduction of the expenditure upon printing was a very useful and important one. It must be perfectly evident to everyone who follows the proceedings of this House, and the Papers with which we are provided every day, that expenditure upon printing forms an extremely important item in the general expenditure which is necessary for carrying on the government of the country. I do think that this expenditure is now getting beyond all bounds, and if the Government made some effort towards economy in this direction a great deal of money might be saved, and I am certain very little information would be lost to hon. Members of this House. I was particularly struck with one example of the careless and extravagant way in which the printing of the Government is conducted in connection with the White Paper which Members have recently received dealing with recent events in the Irish Command. It seems to me that the information contained in those documents might have been suitably conveyed to the House in one single document. That would have been to the advantage of hon. Members, because they would have had all this information contained within —
§ The CHAIRMAN
That question is not in order of this Vote. Those Papers are sent to the printers, and they have to be printed as they are sent in. The hon. Member must raise that question upon another occasion.
§ Mr. SANDYS
I suppose I should be in order in discussing the way in which these Papers have been printed?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I suppose it would be in order to discuss the paper on which they are printed, the type, and so on?
§ Mr. SANDYS
I want to call attention to what I consider to be a totally unnecessary piece of extravagance. It may be within the recollection of some hon. Members that after the demand which was made by the Opposition, that this correspondence should be laid before the House. It appeared in two forms, and two Papers dealing with identically the same matter and intended to be identical, although not absolutely identical, were printed by two separate printers. This is an extravagance which could have been avoided. One of these documents was printed by Messrs. Harrison and Sons, whilst the other document, which was identically the same, and circulated at the same time, was printed by Messrs. Eyre and Spottiswoode. This shows the flurry and fluster with which the Government conduct their business. I do not know why orders were given to two different printers. It was a very important question, but it was no advantage to anyone that it should be presented to the House in two different forms. This is only one of many examples of the careless, extravagant, and unbusinesslike way in which the Government conduct the affairs of this country. I hope my hon. Friend the Member for the City of London will press this matter to a Division, in order that we may have an opportunity of recording our displeasure with the Government, and mark our resentment of the unnecessary expenditure which is involved.
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
I wish to protest against the suggestion that the Stationery Office has any control over what Papers should be printed for the information of this House and the country. Surely that control rests with the particular Department concerned. The Board of Agriculture, for instance, decides that a particular Paper is necessary, and it is, of course, printed subject to proper Treasury control. Surely the duty of the Stationery Office is a technical one. We know that the Stationery Office has the assistance of the Committee presided over by the hon. Member for Bury (Sir G. Toulmin), and it seems to me, really, that the hon. Baronet's Amendment is entirely out of order. The hon. Baronet has argued for a reduction of this Vote on the ground that the Stationery Office ought to interfere in regard to what Papers should or should not be printed. I submit that that is entirely out of order. With regard to the 1196 growth of printing, surely that is a matter on which the country may be congratulated, and it is the result of the extension of Parliamenary interference in certain matters. Surely we may congratulate ourselves on the fact that a larger number of subjects have been examined by various Committees, and have been dealt with by legislation. As to the use of the word economy in that direction, I think it will be a false economy indeed to cut down this Vote.
§ Sir G. TOULMIN
I wish to inform the hon. Member for Somerset (Mr. Sandys) that the point to which he has drawn attention has already been considered. It was due to a small error on the part of a subordinate, and it was probably dictated by anxiety to make absolutely sure that the thing was printed and not delayed at all. Personally, I do not know another instance of the same kind, and if one were brought to the notice of the Committee, it would have attention drawn to it at once. With regard to the position of the Stationery Office, I wish to say that they have no authority whatever to stop any Department printing what they desire. All they can do is to exercise tact and reason, and possibly refer to the Treasury, or in an extreme case bring it before the Publications Committee. That is the extent of their power.
§ Sir H. ELVERSTON
I think these proceedings have been conducted in a somewhat undignified manner, and the points which have been raised have been very small in many respects. I think this House is paying far too much attention to trivial matters. We scarcely ever take up a single Government publication in which there is not far too much of what printers describe as "fat." There is far too much space wasted, and the style of type used is often far too big for convenience, and is certainly far too big for economy. The other day I picked up a Notice Paper, for which I presume you get an estimate at so much per page. If the estimate is given in page form, I can only say it is given in a very extravagant way, and the way in which this kind of printing is produced ought to be carefully supervised and a lot of the spacing out which exists should be cut down, and perhaps yon would then get a real economy.
§ Question put, "That Item E (Printing for Public Departments) be reduced by £28,000."1197
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 78; Noes, 243.1199
|Division No. 81.]||AYES.||[7.30 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Burys, Edmunds)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Rees Sir J. D.|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Harris, Henry Percy||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood.||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Royds, Edmund|
|Barnston, Harry||Hills, John Waller||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Hohler, G. F.||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Blair, Reginald||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Boyton, James||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Stanier, Beville|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Horne, E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Hunt, Rowland||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Campion, W. R.||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Thomson, W. Mitchell (Down, North)|
|Cassel, Felix||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Touche, George Alexander|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Larmor, Sir J.||Watson, Hon. W.|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.)||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Clyde, James Avon||Mackinder, Halford J.||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Denison-Pender, J. C.||Newman, John R. P.||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Winterton, Earl|
|Du Pre, W. Baring||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Paget, Almerio Hugh||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Fell, Arthur||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Younger, Sir George|
|Gibbs, George Abraham||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Pollock, Ernest Murray||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Clazebrock, Captain Philip K.||Quilter, Sir William Eley C.||Sir F. Banbury and Mr. Sandys.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Adamson, William||Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Dillon, John||Hudson, Walter|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Donelan, Captain A.||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Alden, Percy||Doris, William||John, Edward Thomas|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Duffy, William J.||Johnson, William|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Elverston, Sir Harold||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Barnes, George N.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Jowett, Frederick William|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Joyce, Michael|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Esslemont, George Birnie||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Falconer, James||Kelly, Edward|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Farrell, James Patrick||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Kilbride, Denis|
|Boland, John Pius||Ffrench, Peter||King, Joseph|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Field, William||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Brace, William||Fitzgibbon, John||Lardner, James C. R.|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Gelder, Sir W. A.||Leach, Charles|
|Bryce, John Annan||Gill, A. H.||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Buckmaster, Sir Stanley O.||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Lundon, Thomas|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Glanville, H. J.||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Goldstone, Frank||Lynch, Arthur Alfred|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Macdonafd, J. Ramsay (Leicester)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Greig, Colonel James William||Macdonald, John M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||McGhee, Richard|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Maclean, Donald|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs, Hey wood)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Hackett, John||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hancock, John George||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Clough, William||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||M'Kean, John|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Harvey, W. E, (Derbyshire, N. E.)||M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hayden, John Patrick||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Cotton, William Francis||Hazleton, Richard||Manfield, Harry|
|Crooks, William||Helme, Sir Nerval Watson||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Crumley, Patrick||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Cullinan, John||Henderson, John M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Higham, John Sharp||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Hinds, John||Molloy, Michael|
|Davies, S. W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hodge, John||Mend, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Hogge, James Myles||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Delany, William||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Montagu, Hon. E. S.|
|Mooney, John J.||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Morgan, George Hay||Radford, G. H.||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Morison, Hector||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Tennant, Harold John|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell, (South Shields)||Thomas, James Henry|
|Muldoon, John||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Reddy, Michael||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Murphy, Martin J.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Rendall, Athelstan||Wardle, George J.|
|Nolan, Joseph||Richards, Thomas||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Watt, Henry A.|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Webb, H.|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|O'Dowd, John||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Robinson, Sidney||Whyte, Alexander F.|
|O'Malley, William||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wiles, Thomas|
|O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Roe, Sir Thomas||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N. W.)|
|O'Shee, James John||Rowlands, James||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|O'Sullivan, Timothy||Rowntree, Arnold||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Outhwaite, R. L.||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Parry, Thomas H.||Scanlan, Thomas||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Sheehy, David||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||Shortt, Edward||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Pointer, Joseph||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Pratt, J. W.||Snowden, Philip||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert||Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.