§ 63. Sir CHARLES OMAN
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the recent raising of the price of each volume of the Calendar of State Papers from the former 15s. to £3 will force many public and university libraries to discontinue the purchase of this most valuable series of historical records, their limited finances not permitting them to pay a fourfold price for this long range of volumes; and whether he will endeavour to reduce the price of the forthcoming volumes to a more moderate figure?
The suggestion made in the first part of the question that the price of the Calendar of State Papers has been raised from 15s. to £3 for each volume is incorrect. The flat rate of 15s. was abandoned in 1914, and volumes published since have been priced on a basis of cost of production for each volume separately. Volume XXIII of the Venetian Series is presumably the volume which is in the mind of the hon. Member, and the price of £3 was necessary in order to cover the heavy cost involved in its production. While I agree with the hon. Member as to the value of these records, I am not able to recommend a reduction in price for subsequent issues other than the reduction which will automatically follow the fall in printing costs, etc.
§ Sir C. OMAN
Is it not a fact that for many, many years down to 1915 the sum of 15s. was exacted, that only once has any sum differing between 15s. and £3, as an intermediate sum, been charged, and does the hon. Gentleman not see by raising the price to £3 a volume, nobody can possibly afford to buy these volumes, with the result that the whole numbers will be thrown on the Government, instead of getting many hundreds of pounds out of libraries?
Perhaps the hon. Member will regard what I said in my answer when he has an opportunity of considering it. It is not the case that the price has been raised to £3 a volume. It is only in the instance mentioned that the volume is priced at £3. The price has been raised, as we so often have to do nowadays, to such a price as will be adequate to pay the increased cost of production.
§ Sir C. OMAN
Does the hon. Gentleman not see that by raising the price to the cost of production in this way, the volume will not sell, and therefore the object of raising the price to the cost of production is defeated?