HC Deb 20 October 1943 vol 392 cc1379-81
49. Mr. Kenneth Lindsay

asked the Minister of Production how many tons of paper are allocated per annum, respectively, to newspapers, the Stationery Office, the War Office and to books?

The Minister of Production (Mr. Lyttelton)

The approximate figures are 250,000 tons for newspapers, 20,000 tons for books and about 100,000 tons for the Stationery Office. The War Office uses about 25,000 tons a year, taken from the Stationery Office allocation.

Mr. Lindsay

Without wishing to get the matter out of perspective, would the right hon. Gentleman reconsider this question? I believe that another 1,000 tons would produce 5,000,000 books of average size and that the War Office is using 5,000 tons more than the whole of the book trade.

Mr. Lyttelton

I do my best to try to keep the quotas more or less equitable.

50. Mr. Parker

asked the Minister for Production whether he is aware that the recent increase in the paper supply given to newspapers is about double the total now available to publishers of books; that many daily papers are not now selling out; and whether he will give part of this supply to publishers of books and weekly papers?

Mr. Lyttelton

I am afraid I do not agree with the hon. Member's figures. I assume, however, that the object of his Question is to suggest that the supply of newsprint to newspapers should be reduced in order that paper supplies for books and weekly periodicals may be increased. I cannot accept this suggestion. The tonnage at present allocated to newspapers is about 22½ per cent. of their pre-war consumption, for books 37½ per cent., and for periodicals 20 per cent. Special additions to these latter allocations have been made for periodicals and books for the Forces. I am, however, most anxious to increase the supplies for books and periodicals as soon as circumstances permit.

Mr. Montague

Will the Minister assure the House that Orders and Regulations will not be printed on inferior newsprint?

Sir Austin Hudson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that when the cut was made on newspapers it was made at the same time on weekly papers and periodicals and that when the cut was restored it was not restored to these weekly papers? Can he say the reason for this differentiation, which is causing very bad feeling?

Mr. Lyttelton

I will look into the matter of periodicals again. At present I admit there is a disparity of 21 per cent. in the allocation.

Miss Rathbone

Is the Minister aware that while nobody is in any difficulty about getting the newspapers they want there is a serious shortage of books, which is proving a real impediment to the war effort, because it is affecting educational books of all kinds?

Mr. Lyttelton

I can assure the hon. Lady that in this matter I am on the side of the angels and that if their wings have been slightly clipped through my efforts it was only in order to drive the devil out more quickly.

Mr. Neil Maclean

Is the Minister aware that there has been a reduction in the quota of paper allowed to publishers of educational books for schools and that in many schools there is one book between five or six pupils? Will he not consider granting an increase in the quota to some of the school educational publishers so that children can have the books they need?

Mr. Lyttelton

Yes, Sir, I will be glad to communicate with my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education on the matters which have been raised by hon. Members.