HC Deb 10 May 1938 vol 335 cc1414-5
47. Sir Arnold Wilson

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what is the selling price to the public of the minutes of evidence of the Royal Commission on the geographical distribution of the industrial population so far as yet published; and whether, in view of the importance of arousing public interest, he will arrange for publication at a lower figure?

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Lieut.-Colonel Colville)

Up to the present time 14 parts, covering 16 days' evidence, have been published, 12 of them at prices varying between 1s. 6d. and 3s., and two, each covering two days' evidence, at 5s. and 10s., respectively. The selling price is fixed under the pricing scale for Government publications according to the amount of matter contained in the document. It is undesirable to vary the pricing scale in favour of particular documents, and I do not consider that departure from the normal practice would be justified in this case.

Sir A. Wilson

Is the Financial Secretary aware that the price is now five times as great as was the case before the War, and that at present prices it is practically impossible for any public library to buy the evidence, which is of great public interest?

Lieut.-Colonel Colville

The pricing scale is designed to secure that, over the whole range of Government publications, the cost shall be recovered without profit being made. To vary creates difficulties.

Sir A. Wilson

Does not my right hon. and gallant Friend agree that one of the objects of publishing the evidence is to enable the public, in libraries and elsewhere, to have access to these important publications?

Lieut.-Colonel Colville

Yes, Sir; but I do not agree that it would be desirable to depart from the present arrangement, under which absolute impartiality is accorded to the various publications.

Mr. Edmund Harvey

Would it not be possible to give special terms to public libraries and similar institutions?