HC Deb 22 March 1945 vol 409 cc994-6
68. Mr. Driberg

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if libraries, public bodies and persons other than Members of Parliament are permitted to purchase bound volumes of HANSARD.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Peake)

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Driberg

In view of that answer, may we take it that, if some public-spirited person or organisation were to purchase bound volumes and present them to those Members of Parliament who desire them, the Treasury would have no objection?

Mr. Peake

None at all.

Mr. Driberg

But does not this reply by the right hon. Gentleman make complete nonsense of the Treasury argument that these volumes could not be allowed to hon. Members because of the labour and material shortages?

Mr. Peake

There is no argument by the Treasury that these volumes should not be allowed to hon. Members. I would refer the House to the statement made by Mr. Speaker towards the end of last month on this subject.

Mr. Driberg

Was not that statement, and all others that have been made here, based on the shortage of labour and material?

Mr. Peake

I have not made any statement of that kind at all. I spoke in a Debate on the Adjournment on this subject and said that, as far as the Stationery Office was concerned, we should be pleased to have this privilege restored.

Mr. A. Bevan

Are you satisfied, Mr. Speaker, that the Treasury should shelter itself behind an observation made by you a few weeks ago?

Sir William Davison

In view of the fact that most hon. Members find it most inconvenient not to have these bound volumes, will the Treasury reconsider the matter?

Mr. Peake

As I have explained, this matter is not in the hands of the Treasury. There is a Select Committee of this House which advises Mr. Speaker upon this matter.

Mr. John Dugdale

May I ask whether it is due to a shortage of paper or a shortage of money that we cannot have these bound volumes?

Mr. Peake

This really is not a matter with which the Stationery Office is concerned. They are willing at any moment to carry out the wishes of the Horne in this matter.

Mr. Shinwell

If my right hon. friend is correct in his declaration that this is a matter for you, Mr. Speaker, and a Select Committee, is the Report or recommendation of the Select Committee debatable? Can we discuss it and can the House come to a decision?

Mr. Speaker

I remember that I expressed the hope that the Report of the Select Committee would be placed in the Library. If a Report was made to the House, it could, of courser be debated.

Mr. Kirkwood

Do you not consider, Mr. Speaker, that this is simply penalising the poorer Members of the House of Commons? It is all right to those hon. Members to whom a few pounds do not matter, but it is serious for us who cannot afford it.

Mr. Buehanan

May I raise another question with you, Mr. Speaker? May I remind you that, on the last occasion when this matter arose, I made a statement and put the suggestion to you, that you ought to meet some of us after the Report was issued? The Report has been issued and the only basis of that Report that I can find is the shortage of materials and labour. In view of the fact that the answer given to-day largely disposes of that, could I ask you to reconsider the matter? May I add that I am not seeking to have a discussion involving one hon. Member against another? I want this as a facility for every hon. Member of the House, no matter to which party he belongs.

Mr. Speaker

Of course, I am perfectly willing to meet hon. Members to discuss it. I said I would and that I did not know that hon. Members wanted to see me. No representations have been made to me, but if hon. Members wish to see me, I shall be only too happy to meet them.

Mr. Kirkwood

Does that mean to say that we hon. Members who cannot afford to buy them have to come and ask for a concession from you, personally, Mr. Speaker? Well, I am not doing it.

Commander King-Hall

Is it not a fact that the recommendation of the Select Committee was based on facts which no longer exist, represented by the Stationery Office, of a shortage of paper in this respect; and as those facts no longer exist, may we not have this privilege restored to us?

Mr. Bevan

May I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that it is within your province to accept the Report or to reject it, and in view of the difference of opinion which obviously exists on the desire to have these bound volumes, that you would invite the Government to provide an opportunity to have this matter discussed in the House, that being the most appropriate way of enabling us to express our opinion?

Mr. Speaker

Perhaps hon. Members will allow me to consider that. I appreciate what hon. Members want. I am not quite clear how best to deal with the matter, but I shall certainly consider it.