HC Deb 15 March 1977 vol 928 cc244-80

4.40 p.m.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Michael Foot)

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Select Committee on House of Commons (Services) in their First Report.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)

I should intimate that Mr. Speaker has selected the amendment which has been submitted.

Mr. Foot

I begin by apologising to the House for not having been able to be present when the motion which is now on the Order Paper was previously debated. I have, however, carefully read the debate that occurred on that occasion and have taken into account what was said. I hope that hon. Members, especially those who have put their names to the amendment, will have found my hon. Friends' answer published in Hansard on 9th March useful in helping them understand why the Services Committee has asked the House to endorse its recommendation.

I think that this, and the Answer given yesterday to the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson), answers the criticism in the amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing). The existing parliamentary Press is, in the Government's—

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

As some of us have, unfortunately, not had the opportunity of looking at those Answers closely, can my right hon. Friend say what the Answers are because they will determine our attitude to this matter?

Mr. Foot

I hope to cover that point in my remarks. I fully understand what my hon. Friend says. Part of them dealt with the question of consultation. There was some criticism that some Officers of the House had not been fully consulted. I think it will be found that consultation did take place. There were also sonic questions relating to cost. I shall touch further on these aspects of the matter in my brief remarks. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), and other hon. Members, will agree that the matter has been properly dealt with.

The existing parliamentary Press is, in the Government's view, obsolescent and unable to cope with the increasing demands that Parliament makes upon it. As the House knows, the Government decided that the machinery must be replaced as soon as possible, probably within about two years. This debate is therefore different from the earlier one on experimental changes in our printing arrangements designed to achieve savings and a better service to hon. Members. It may assist the House if I said a brief word about those experiments now because it might help hon. Members to come to a view on the motion now before us.

The 9 p.m. cut-off time for the marshalling of printed amendments, which was discussed on the previous occasion, seems to have met with general success and the printers have certainly found it a great help. The change in the format for added names to Early-Day Motions has, however, not been welcomed with such open arms and criticism has been such that I propose to ask the Services Committee to re-examine the experiment as soon as possible. Taking into account the representations from the House, my view is that the House will probably wish to abandon the experiment. At any rate, it was introduced as an experiment and hon. Members have had an opportunity of putting their views.

Some hon. Members may wish to refer to the matter again during the debate, although it is not the direct question under debate. The debate on today's motion starts from a different standpoint. There has to be a change in machinery in any case and it is for the House to take this opportunity to move to a standard sized paper. Initially, it is proposed to use it for Hansard reports of debates on the Floor of the House and in Standing Committees. Standardising to A4 would give the most advantages. It would mean that the number of pages printed would be reduced by over 25 per cent. thereby saving production time and giving a more efficient service. Standardisation would mean that fewer printing machines would be needed, and they would be cheaper and easier to instal and run. Her Majesty's Stationery Office has estimated that there would be a capital saving of about £182,000 if machines were geared to A4, not to mention substantial savings in running costs.

I notice that some hon. Members size of the saving during the last debate but I must say that it would be unwise for the House to criticise savings in public money of whatever I do not think that £182,000 is insignificant.

Mr. Nigel Lawson (Blaby)

I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman that I was unable to be in my place when he began his speech. Does he not agree that the true net saving from A4 is considerably less than £182,000? If the right hon. Gentleman is concerned about savings per annum in manpower, then the savings are certainly remarkably high according to the Written Answer that I received on Monday. Can the right hon. Gentleman explain why it appears that it would take three times as much manpower to standardise to A5 as to standardise to A4? The normal printed Hansard size falls between A4 and A5 but is much nearer A5. These figures seem to be remarkable and need checking up.

Mr. Foot

I cannot check the figures on the spot, but I have them in front of me. Certainly those are the figures that have been produced by my hon. Friend's Department, and they are the figures on which we have been working. It was on that basis that we have recommended that this would be the saving that would be achieved. If there is any further information to be devised about A5 compared with A4, and the £256,000 savings compared with the £87,000 in manpower costs per annum, I shall certainly look at the matter since the hon. Gentleman has raised it. But these are the figures as we have them. I therefore think it is correct to say that there is no reason why we should doubt the claim about the general saving to which I have referred.

The A4 size has the highest savings on both counts according to the reckonings we have made. Nor do I accept one of the points made by some hon. Members in the debate that the A4 size is more inconvenient and clumsy. It would mean much slimmer volumes. I personally find that the present daily volume is not so easy to open and read.

The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) maintained that he could read the present size in bed but would find A4 difficult. All I can say is that I can read The Spectator quite happily in bed. I would not recommend it on all occasions, but in some respects I find it easier to read than reading the present Hansard.

Mr. Heffer

My right hon. Friend must be aware that many of us would agree with the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) that the present size is a most useful size. It can be carried around in one's pocket and it can be extracted very easily when one wants it. A larger Hansard of the kind envisaged would be much more cumbersome.

We may save money to the Government but what about all the bookshelves that will need to be changed? We should have to change Members' bookshelves and those in the Libraries. There will be extra cost all round in other directions. There will be costs in this House if bookshelves have to be altered and so on. We shall find that the savings will have to be weighed against a much higher cost all round for other people.

Mr. Foot

Obviously, these are some of the questions which have been in the minds of hon. Members and were raised in the previous debate. On the question of convenience, I think that the new size is more convenient than the older one, but, as I said before, it is a matter of taste. How easy it is to get the present Hansard into one's pocket depends on the size of one's pocket and I do not believe that it is so easy after all. I believe that the new form will be found in many respects more convenient. That is one reason why we advocate it and why the Committee advocated it.

Moreover, the Committee went into many of these difficulties. We do not accept that one would have to change the size of shelves to store the Hansards or that that would be a countervailing charge which would reduce the advantage of the Services Committee's proposal.

I, too, think that we should take into account some other aspect of the matter. We should think for a moment about those—our secretaries, civil servants and librarians—who face the unenviable job of taking endless copies from Hansard. Apart from the fact that they would be greatly helped by a slimmer volume, most photocopiers and reproducing paper are now in A4 size. It is true that some bookshelves may need adjustment, but most shelving is adjustable anyway.

I have made inquiries and I understand that the Officers of the House involved—the Clerk, the Librarian, the Editor of Hansard and the Deliverer of the Vote—were all consulted. I am told that although any change in size would inevitably involve some adjustment of shelving, they have no objections to a change in form should it be desirable for other reasons.

Dr. Alan Glyn (Windsor and Maidenhead)

I cannot imagine that the right hon. Gentleman, for all his generosity, has a pocket quite as large as the proposed new size. He is quite right in what he says about adjustable shelving from the point of view of height, and most libraries will take Hansard, keeping the modern ones on display and storing the others. But to put copies of Hansard of the new size on shelves will mean tremendous alterations in an enormous number of public libraries, if not in this House.

Mr. Foot

I did not say that the new size would be more convenient to put in one's pocket. I said that whether the present Hansard was convenient depended on the size of the pocket. There is some difficulty in putting the present Hansard in one's pocket. The new one is a larger size, but it can be folded more easily and has advantages in the way in which it can be opened. So there are countervailing advantages in the new form.

All these factors were taken into account by the Committee which examined the matter and made the recommendation to the Services Committee, and were included among the reasons why the Services Committee accepted them.

As for the alteration in the size of shelves, it is true that other libraries than our own could be affected by the change. However, I think that we would all acknowledge that the hon. Member who dealt with this matter in the interests of the House was right to take into account what was said by the Librarian of the House. However, the House itself is entitled to make the judgment of what is best for its own use in years to come. While some adjustment may be needed, it would not be necessary to make anything like the major changes that some people have suggested.

Mr. Lawson

Will the right hon. Gentleman not distinguish more clearly between the two separate issues involved here? The first is whether the size of all parliamentary papers should be standardised on the same size of equipment. There are savings flowing from that, which no hon. Member has challenged. But the second issue is the question of on which size they should be standardised. On that, there is considerable feeling on both sides of the House that the new proposal is wrong. From the Written Answer to which I alluded earlier, the right hon. Gentleman will see that if everything were standardised on the present size of Hansard and there was no change, the capital saving would amount to £360,000 and the manpower saving to £87,000 per annum, on the Minister's own figures. Would the right hon. Gentleman not be content with that as a compromise, rather than flying in the face of articulated opinion on both sides of the House?

Mr. Foot

I fully accept that the representations of the hon. Member and of my hon. Friends have to be taken into account. That is why the matter is submitted to the House and there is to be a free vote whether we should proceed with these proposals. The various alternatives were carefully considered by the Sub-Committee which dealt with this problem and then by the Services Committee. It is on that basis that this course has been recommended to the House.

Returning to the comparison of sizes, although each page of the new size would carry more words, the lay-out would be redesigned for ease of reference. There need be no worry on that score. A specimen was attached to the Select Committee's Report and I personally found the suggested arrangements clear and helpful.

As I said, this is a matter on which the House must make up its own mind, but I would ask hon. Members to support the Select Committee's recommendations and allow Her Majesty's Stationery Office to replace its obsolescent equipment with machinery which will not only let it take full advantage of modern machinery and technology, to everyone's benefit, but will also make available a cheaper and more efficient service.

In my opinion—I believe that it is also the overwhelming view of hon. Members who have had the advantage of all the services we get from HMSO—the Stationery Office is one of the most efficient bodies in the world for assisting a Parliament. We should do everything in our power to ensure that that standard of service to hon. Members is sustained in years to come.

It is on that basis that we have looked to the future to decide how we may best make use of the new arrangements which are available to make the choices that we have to make for the future. The hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Cooke), who does great service to the House and spends many hours in devoted service to ensuring the best operation of the House, chaired the Sub-Committee which made the recommendation to the Services Committee. The latter believed that that recommendation deserved full backing, for the reasons which the hon. Gentleman outlined.

There is no question of something being foisted on us by the Stationery Office. The matter has been considered by hon. Members who were charged with the task of considering what recommendations should he made to the House.

Mr. Heffer

They have made some bad decisions in the past.

Mr. Foot

They may have made some mistaken decisions in the past but I believe that in the main the services of the Stationery Office to this House are of a high standard and that this motion will ensure that that service is sustained in future and that we shall make the best use of the facilities which will be available. I hope that on that basis the House will be prepared to accept the motion.

4.59 p.m.

Mr. Paul Hawkins (Norfolk, South-West)

I sat on the Committee which considered this matter. I began with the firm conclusion that changing the shape and size of Hansard would be wrong. However, I was completely convinced on the evidence given that it was essential to go over to the new size. One of the main reasons which convinced me was not only the new machinery, which will undoubtedly cheapen the process of printing. Several times in the past, papers have been delayed by strikes and so on. The men in that department are under constant pressure because of obsolete machinery and because of their conditions. I was convinced that by altering the size, and accepting the other recommendations, we should give them a far better chance of turning out a good job.

I support the Leader of the House in saying how much work my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Cooke) has done, and paying tribute to the meticulous care which he has taken in going into this difficult problem. Although I have been a Member for only 12 years, I realise that we do not like altering the size or shape of something which we have become used to. I, too, have bound volumes of Hansard and I should have to adapt my shelves for the new volumes. But for the sake of generations to come in this House, it is essential that we adopt the recommendation.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

May I repeat for the benefit of the House that Mr. Speaker has selected the amendment.

5.1 p.m.

Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South and Finsbury)

I beg to move, to leave out from House to the end of Question and to add instead thereof: declines to agree with the Select Committee on House of Commons (Services) in their First Report since no Report concerning the proposed changes of printing arrangements for Parliament has been made available to this House; and calls upon the Services Committee to provide more comprehensive information, including evidence taken from the Officers of the House before presenting a further Report". I am sure that it is only because my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) did not expect the earlier business to collapse so soon that he is not here. I am sorry about that, because I am sure that he feels even more strongly on this than some of the rest of us do and would speak more forcibly on the subject. But I have some points to make about it.

The proposal comes from the Services Committee. That body has given us the car park, and the canopy over the Member's entrance, which cost about £28,000—or perhaps it was £18,000; it was certainly a preposterous sum of money. It is the body which has erected the two notices down on the Interview Floor—quite cheap at the price, a couple of hundred pounds, for a few bits of chipboard made into hexagonal boxes. It is the body which has authorised the payment of slightly more than £1,000 for redecoration of what used to be one of the television rooms upstairs. That room has become a sort of mixture of the private room of the Chairman of the Accommodation Sub-Committee and a room for use by the Accommodation Sub-Committee itself, masquerading under the notice "House of Commons Records Room", when it is nothing of the kind.

Therefore, a recommendation from the Services Committee as a whole, or from the Accommodation Sub-Committee of the Services Committee, does not carry very great weight with me, particularly regarding the saving or spending of money. The Services Committee has a rotten record on the spending of money, and we should not pay it much regard.

This recommendation is one of two which came out of the same stable. The other one, which has already been referred to by my right hon. Friend the Lord President, touched upon procedural points as well as Services Committee points. Yet the Services Committee did not see fit to ensure that one of our two procedural committees, at least, was consulted on the matter before bringing it before the House. This matter does not touch upon the responsibilities of the procedural committees very much. Nevertheless, I think that it would have been right for the Sessional Committee on Procedure to be given an opportunity to comment upon it.

I think that the examples of the new format which we have been given are quite attractive, not because of the size of the page but because the typography seems to be clearer than it is at present. I do not know whether different type faces or spaces have been used, but it seems quite attractive and it is clearer than our present format. I am not prepared to say that, given a chance, this format would not be entirely acceptable to the House in time. But I do not feel that a case has been made out for the change.

Will this size be used for statutes of the Realm? Does anyone know the answer to that question? Is it suggested that statutes should be printed upon this size of paper?

Mr. Lawson

It is clear that that is indeed the intention. The whole point is to standardise all parliamentary papers—statutes, Standing Committees, Select Committees, Hansard, the Vote, everything. That is where the figure for the economies comes from, including, as the hon. Gentleman says, statutes of the Realm.

Mr. Cunningham

It would be interesting to have an authoritative answer on that. I do not want to be disrespectful to the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson), but the Chairman of the Sub-Committee and the Chairman of the Services Committee are present. Is it proposed that statutes should be printed on this size of paper?

Mr. Robert Cooke (Bristol, West)

The House is being asked to approve a report which relates only to Hansard. It is true that possible savings in printing other parliamentary papers on the size mentioned in the report relating to Hansard are being considered, but there is no question of the House being asked to decide anything beyond Hansard this afternoon. Should there be any proposal to proceed any further on other papers, the House would be asked to approve or disapprove that.

Mr. Cunningham

That sounds a cock-eyed way to proceed. We are supposed to be doing this for the purpose of standardisation and saving money. Yet we are told "You must look at this one and later we shall come to you for a decision about the others". I do not see how statutes can be printed on this size of paper. If they were printed across the page, the lines would be too long. I doubt very much whether the House would wish to see statutes printed on two columns of the page. That ought to have been sorted out.

If we are to take a real look at the matter, we must look at it altogether. I should not have thought that the House would wish to see statutes printed on this size of paper. This all suggests to me that the matter has not been gone into sufficiently, and it should be taken back and looked at properly by the Services Committee and the Sessional Committee on Procedure. I think that there is enough of a procedural content in this matter for it to be taken back.

5.8 p.m.

Mr. Tim Sainsbury (Hove)

I apologise to the Leader of the House for not being here when he introduced the debate. We started it so soon that I anticipate that it implies that we might have a thin Hansard on this occasion. I do not share in the strictures of the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) on the Services Committee, although I feel that we could have a slightly more economical entrance. I enjoy sheltering under it when it rains. I think that perhaps the Committee could make quicker progress to provide accommodation which could begin to be regarded as reasonable to do the work which we are called upon to do.

I, too, have some doubts about the merits of this recommendation. I declare what is not really an interest, but I suppose it is relevant and it is on the register of interests. I am a director of a printing company which uses the kind of technology that it is suggested we ought to use. The firm carries out work for Her Majesty's Stationery Office. But I am not suggesting that we should obtain the contract for printing Hansard. The important point is the need to change the method of printing Hansard to use modern technology and modern machinery. It seems particularly appropriate to use a web off-set printing press for this sort of job.

I wonder whether the alternatives we are being asked to consider are the full range. For instance, the web machinery is suitable for printing A5 as well as A4. But A5 is somewhat smaller than the present size of Hansard. We could consider printing on A5, using only a single column instead of the double one with which we are familiar. That might prove easier to read and considerably more economical in paper. I am sure that a Hansard that was slightly smaller rather than larger than the present one would be much easier to use. That is at least one of the alternatives we should consider before we commit ourselves.

Another alternative is to commission a special web press. Bearing in mind the volume of paper for the production of which we are responsible, I believe that that would be an economical possibility. It would give us the opportunity of printing almost any size of Hansard we wished.

Equally, a variety of sizes could be produced. In the same way as one can use a press to produce A4 and A5 papers, one could use a special press to produce a range of sizes. As I understand it—and I should stress that I am no expert on printing—the greater part of the savings which we are being asked to make possible can be derived from the use of more modern machinery. A certain amount of saving obviously flows from economies in the use of paper, and I suggest that the biggest economy there could probably come from having a single column width instead of two columns. There would be a saving in margins, because at present there is an extra margin down the middle of every page, and we should remove the greater problem of justifying such short lines, involving complications which are not normal in book publishing.

For those reasons, I am inclined to support the amendment that the matter be further considered. I do so somewhat hesitatingly, because I agree that we want to make progress, and it is clearly unacceptable to go on printing Hansard on such obsolescent machinery, incurring much higher costs than there would be if we switched to new machinery. But I wonder whether it is possible to consider some of the other alternatives before we are committed. Perhaps we may have them presented to us so that everyone may see the various formats available before we reach a decision. I shall be interested to hear what the Chairman of the Committee has to say about that suggestion.

5.12 p.m.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

I am obliged to my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham), who is very good in procedural matters, for moving the amendment so ably. The House is indebted to him. Owing to the unusual speed with which this business came upon us, I, too, did not hear what my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House said. It was no doubt brief and, as always, to the point.

The amendment does not say that we disagree with the recommendation or that ultimately we shall not have the A4 size for a new Hansard. It says that more information should be available, and it is therefore entirely in line with what the hon. Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury) has said. The information in the Select Committee Report, which was first discussed in unusual circumstances on 18th January, is very brief. Although it may appear at first sight that the question of the size of Hansard is a piffling administrative matter, it is very important. Hanging on our decision is the whole question of the re-equipment of the press and the format in which not only Hansard but ultimately the other parliamentary papers are produced.

For anybody who takes a high view of Parliament, as I know my right hon. Friend does, the nature, production, distribution and format of parliamentary papers is very important, not only for the House but for the public as a whole. It is clear that when radio comes into this Chamber the demand for certain parliamentary papers will increase. That may be healthy for democracy, although I should add that I voted against radio coming into the Chamber.

We have heard some technical points from the lion. Member for Hove. If there is to be a new plant, new opportunities may arise for the transmission of magnetic tapes to other places in the country or throughout the world, where copies can be made. Some of us recently saw some exhibitions of micro-film in the House. It is possible to put a whole volume on one film and send it through the post. No doubt there will be opportunities for indexing and other matters related to the printing of Hansard. If there are to be changes in the method of printing Hansard, the Services Committee might have given the House more information about all those matters, which would clearly follow if we approved its recommendations. Although we are ostensibly discussing the possible A4 size for Hansard, there is more to the matter if we pass the recommendation.

We are also discussing by implication the size of other parliamentary papers. We may need some rationalisation. Three sizes may not be convenient for the press, but, as the hon. Member for Hove said, there is the alternative of A5. If we cannot have the existing size, it may be that half the A4 size—namely, A5—is more convenient. We need more information about that. We must consider the convenience of other users. Hon. Members have shown that they would prefer the present size, but there are others who use Hansard. We must consider the people who deliver it, the Post Office itself, and those in various places who read it.

The House should not spend too long on this matter, although it is one of some importance, so I come to my final point, which concerns the way in which my right hon. Friend, the Government and the Services Committee have approached the House. If they had presented the full facts, if they had come forward with a full report together with the views of Officers of the House and the memorandum from the Stationery Office, the recommendations might well have gone through, but they did not choose to do so.

Moreover, when the House was asked to approve the recommendation on 18th January there was no speech by the mover of the motion. There was an attempt to get it through on the nod. I hope that my right hon. Friend will at least admit that that was unfortunate. I hope that he will think again and agree that the matter brings into court a whole variety of considerations which may or may not have been considered by the Services Committee. We do not know. I hope that he will accept the amendment or say that if it is withdrawn he will see whether the Services Committee will reconsider the matter.

We know that the Services Committee had to take account not only of the mechanical side but of the human side of printing, which is very important. We all understand the human organisations involved in the printing industry. We have had a heavy reminder in the past fortnight.

On hearing the opinions of the House, the Services Committee might like to have another look at the question. So often many of us in public life are told by officials and others who come before us that we must take certain action, that we must save money and that the action must be taken now or all the savings will be lost. When anybody gives me that sort of advice I become a little cynical and ask to look at it twice. I hope that the House will look at the matter twice. If my right hon. Friend cannot accept our moderate amendment, which does not throw out the idea but says that we want more information, I hope that he will at least withdraw his motion, so that the Services Committee—which serves the needs of the House and in general has the confidence of the House—may produce more information and we may have another look at the matter.

5.19 p.m.

Dr. Alan Glyn (Windsor and Maidenhead)

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Cooke), who has done an enormous amount of work on the Services Committee in regard to not only this matter but other matters. The House is grateful to him.

But on this point I am equally grateful to those responsible for the amendment, because it allows the House to enlarge slightly on the original business. I share the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury). We are discussing, first, the question of the efficiency of the Hansard service, how we can best provide a good service, with a Hansard that is easily readable and acceptable to the House. It involves the use of modern techniques and up-to-date machinery.

The point involving a single column of Hansard on each page is worth considering. It is extremely difficult for many people to take in half a column and it would facilitate the reading exercise if Hansard were to read right across the page. The simple removal of the middle margin would probably result in a great saving in paper. For reference purposes the use of one column per page of Hansard would have enormous advantages.

Unfortunately, the remit of the Services Committee did not allow it to consider the fact that this change in Hansard may be the precursor of a change in other parliamentary documents. There is a case for the standardisation of all parliamentary documents from the point of view of economy as well as in terms of storage and for other reasons. This would probably result in considerable savings.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West said that on this occasion we were dealing only with the question of deciding the size of Hansard, although he gave an indication that other matters would come before the House later. It was unfortunate that at an earlier stage my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House desired this matter to go forward without debate. There was an exchange in which I joined—[Interruption.] Although we discussed the matter, there were few people present, as the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) will know. [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Conversations should not be held at the far end of the Chamber. Will the hon. Gentleman please address the Chair?

Dr. Glyn

It is extremely difficult to concentrate when hon. Members interrupt from a reclining position.

I wish to mention the subject of shelving of volumes of Hansard. I believe that the new format will cause considerable problems in that regard. However, if all these documents are standardised, a great deal of the difficulty would disappear. In that case the Library could have common shelving for all documents.

It is a pity that the Select Committee was not given an opportunity to decide the size of all parliamentary documents, including documents issued by the EEC. Overall economies might be achieved in that way and standardisation of all documents would benefit the House as a whole.

5.23 p.m.

Mr. Marcus Lipton (Lambeth, Central)

The Services Committee appears to suffer from a mania of constantly seeking to get its proposals through on the nod as quickly as possible. In the absence of many hon. Members, the Services Committee tried to adopt the same tactic when we were discussing the car park proposals. It was only through the vigilance of one or two hon. Members that that proposal did not go through on the nod. In the end, we managed to squeeze a few minutes of debate on the subject. The House then went on to embark on the car park, which some of us still regard as a disaster.

We now have the First Report before us. It is laid down in the report that this matter should come before the House. That is all right so far as it goes. But when the matter first came before the House on the subject of the printing of Hansard, there was no time to discuss the matter there and then. We then tabled a number of amendments to the original proposals put forward by the Services Committee.

A Second Report was issued by the Services Committee—a report which has not yet come before the House—relating to the car park in Broad Sanctuary. In the time that elapsed between the two meetings of the Select Committee on those subjects, another meeting was held and minutes were published, but no report has yet been presented to the House. Goodness knows, when that report will be presented—if at all. All the Committee has committed itself to do is to advise Mr. Speaker of all Resolutions come to this day". I recently asked my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House whether the erection of a fountain in New Palace Yard to mark the Silver Jubilee was to be sanctioned by the House. My right hon. Friend is always truthful in these matters and said that that proposal had not been submitted formally to the House. Yet the minutes to which I have referred mention certain expenditure earmarked by the Department of the Environment for that very purpose. That is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs. It is no way to carry on business to produce minutes and not to append to them a report. We have had no undertaking that such a report will ever come before the House. The fountain will go up in New Palace Yard, on top of the fountain that already does not work—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman will have noticed that the fountain is not playing today. It is strictly out of order for him to discuss that matter.

Mr. Lipton

It is true that the fountain is not playing today. All that has happened so far is that in the last two or three days five or six men have been standing around the hole looking into it. We should like a report from the Select Committee about what is going on.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The Select Committee may or may not decide to make a report on that matter, but it is not under discussion this afternoon.

Mr. Lipton

But I am referring to the way in which the Select Committee on House of Commons (Services) conducts its business.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

But that is not what we are discussing. We are discussing the First Report of the Select Committee, which the hon. Gentleman has in his hands.

Mr. Lipton

I am suggesting that the report which we are discussing involving the printing of Hansard almost went through on the nod. I am also suggesting that it was only the vigilance of one or two of my hon. Friends in tabling amendments that enabled this discussion to take place at all. That is typical of the way in which the Services Committee works. I wish to support the amendments. I sympathise with the Leader of the House who is always on a sticky wicket when dealing with anything to do with the Services Committee.

Mr. Foot

My hon. Friend is very generous to me, but he should not address any criticism about timing of debates in this House to the Services Committee and even less criticism to the Chairman of the Committee whose report we are now discussing. If there is any criticism to be levelled, it should be directed at me as the bull's eye, without any of the shots hitting anybody else.

Mr. Lipton

In that case I shall fire one or two shots in the direction of my right hon. Friend. Having delivered a final shot to my right hon. Friend I conclude with a final shot to the Services Committee and the way in which it does its business.

5.30 p.m.

Mr. Jim Craigen (Glasgow, Maryhill)

This is not the most important or momentous matter before Parliament. However, it is a rather interesting exercise in examining the way in which we make investment decisions. I hope to elicit a little more information from my right hon. Friend the Lord President about when a saving becomes an economy.

It has been put to us that the new equipment is necessary because the existing equipment in the Parliamentary Press is obsolete, although I have not seen any reports to indicate in any detail how obsolete it is. It is a well known ploy of bureaucrats to give others choices. That is done when they do not want to be asked the third question—namely, whether something is really necessary. They take the approach of saying "On the one hand you can do this and on the other hand you can do that", which coaxes others into taking a decision that may not be needed.

Mr. Foot

Some of these points were made by my hon. Friend in the earlier debate. I accept that they are important matters. However, in recent years there has been a great increase in the demand for parliamentary papers to accommodate the House. That is one of the factors that had to be considered. We then had to examine a breakdown of the supply of papers to the House. There have been criticisms on that account and the Committee took those matters into account. It took evidence and received information to ascertain how we could overcome some of the difficulties. The report is partly responsible for dealing with those very matters.

Mr. Craigen

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. However, as my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) said, it was a rather odd affair on 18th January when we debated these matters. I remember that at times my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Civil Service Department could hardly get a word in edgeways. Such was the state of affairs at one o'clock or two o'clock in the morning. Certain questions were not answered in the detail that might have been desirable.

Matters that were raised during the previous debate were the amount of extra expense that would be involved for libraries both in this place and elsewhere and the additional cost of binding. During the debate on 18th January my hon. Friend the Minister of State said that he would consider the extent to which some of the work in the Parliamentary Press could be farmed out to HMSO works in Edinburgh. If there is to be the expected 25 per cent. increase in the amount of parliamentary papers and Government papers that are published during the next decade, perhaps my right hon. Friend the Lord President will say what examination has been made of the extent to which additional work might be undertaken by HMSO works in Edinburgh.

5.35 p.m.

Mr. Robert Cooke (Bristol, West)

Perhaps it will be for the convenience of the House if I intervene now. Given the number of Members present in the Chamber I thought that there might be a greater barrage of suggestions or criticisms.

I make it clear at the outset that this is a matter for the House to decide. The Select Committee, on the evidence that it was given, has reported to the House.

Throughout all the time that I have been a member of the Services Committee it has always resisted change for the sake of change. Certainly that sort of change is sometimes urged upon us, or that is how we see it.

I believe that the House was not especially pleased when we came before it a little while ago with some proposals for changing the format of certain printed papers that are used by the House. However, the way in which Members have responded to handing in their amendments for earlier marshalling has worked quite well. There is no doubt that the experiment in respect of the setting out of Early-Day Motions has not been a success. It might have been more acceptable to the House if Members had found it convenient to reorganise the way in which they deal with the titles of motions. However, they have not seen fit to proceed in that way. As the Select Committee is a servant of the House I should not want the House to think for one moment that an inconvenient experiment will be proceeded with any longer than is necessary.

Following the Lord President's remarks I confirm that at our next meeting, which is on Tuesday, a proposition will be before the Committee recommending that the Early-Day Motion experiment be abandoned forthwith. It is regrettable that some Members should have been inconvenienced. The experiment was designed to save money. It would have saved a certain amount of money, but it is not convenient and, therefore, we shall abandon it.

The present proposition is before the House because the Stationery Office tells us that mounting costs and strain at the presses on obsolete machinery could approach breakdown point. We were told that it was imperative that tenders should go out for new machinery. That is why the report was introduced to the House when it was and why it was hoped that the House would agree to the provisions within the report.

The Lord President has manfully shouldered any blame that there may be for the action of the Government's business managers and the handling of the report on a previous occasion. I assure the hon. Member for Lambeth, Central (Mr. Lipton) that the Services Committee does not attempt to get through its business on the nod. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that that has never been the position. If there were more opportunity for open discussion on matters on which we should like the agreement of the House nobody would be more pleased than the Services Committee. All too often these domestic matters get crowded into some obscure part of the parliamentary day, if not into Written Answers on a Friday. We all agree that time should be available to discuss these important matters.

The House may think that it is cockeyed to ask for a decision on Hansard without deciding about the other papers, but we are informed that two completely new presses are proposed, one for Hansard, which the Stationery Office would like to get on with now, and another for the other papers in three years or four years.

I draw the attention of the House to the final and heavily printed paragraph in the report which states that the Stationery Office is charged to inform Your Committee of the savings so achieved that refers to the Hansard proposal— in order that they may be able to demonstrate to the House that the new printing arrangements will also benefit public funds before they approve the next stage of HMSO's re-equipment programme. There is no question of going on to another stage till we have had proved to us beyond any reasonable doubt that the Hansard printing has resulted in a real saving of expenditure and greater efficiency.

Mr. Sainsbury

My hon. Friend has said that there was to be one press for the Hansard printing and another press, or presses, for other printing. As it is normal to run these expensive and sophisticated pieces of machinery on two shifts, and very often on three, what would the Hansard press be doing when it was not printing Hansard?

Mr. Cooke

If it were not having a rest, I should imagine that it would be usefully employed, but a good deal of Hansard printing goes on when the House is not actually talking and providing yards of copy to fill the pages. At any rate, I make it clear that there is no question of proceeding to stage 2—if it can be called that—till we have had experience of stage 1, and that is there for all to see in the report.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury)—I am glad that he intervened—asked, why not go to A5, which is half the size of A4? My hon. Friend is a genius, because he thought of exactly the same solution as I did when confronted with the problem. Thinking that Members would not like the larger page I said "Why not fold it in half and have A5—half of A4?"

We were told that A5, as I think the House will realise, would use more paper. It may sound silly when I say this, but there would be more margins per acreage of type with A4, the smaller page. If I may use a simple, childish example, a page the size of this Chamber would be almost all type, and hardly any of it margin.

Mr. Sainsbury

Would not my hon. Friend agree that one would depend upon the width of the margins and whether one printed in two columns or in one column?

Mr. Cooke

My hon. Friend is very quick off the mark. I was coming to that point. We thought that it might be possible to have the type right across the page instead of in two columns, as at present, but came to the conclusion that that would not be particularly readable. This may be a matter of opinion.

Another suggestion was to employ a special type of press as opposed to A4, because A4 is a standard size for which there are standard machines and standard practices. If one went for a special press, one might tend to import special problems. I need take the House no further along that line. There are standard practices for standard machines and we were advised that there was great advantage in that.

Mr. George Cunningham

What is that?

Mr. Cooke

This operation—

Mr. Cunningham

Will the hon. Gentleman allow me?

Mr. Cooke

If the hon. Gentleman speaks from a standing position, yes.

Mr. Cunningham

I am asking what it means. This operation will be for a unique job—the printing of parliamentary papers—and the people who perform that work are on the whole employed on a long-term basis on that work. If there is a point there, surely it should have been put into the report.

Mr. Cooke

I am coming to that. I will not repeat what I have just said. I will simply emphasise that standard machines have their standard printing practices, manning scales, and so on. There is some advantage in that, rather than trying to work out a system for a one-off job. I do not think that there is any point in labouring that. The hon. Gentleman may have a different point of view about it.

It is certainly true that the present presses, which are obsolete, and, indeed, some of the practices which have grown up around them, make for immense stresses and strains, sometimes mechanical breakdowns, sometimes stoppages of other kinds. I will not elaborate on those now. They are well known.

The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) made the point that the Select Committee Report was not perhaps as forthcoming as he would wish, as did the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham). Indeed, the reason the hon. Member was not in his place at the beginning of the debate and why I arrived only just as the Lord President rose at the Dispatch Box was that the hon. Gentleman and I were closeted upstairs in a room which was mentioned earlier in the debate trying to explore each other's minds for the benefit of the House on this tricky and difficult matter. I hope that the Written Answer of 9th March gives a good deal more information than we had before.

Mr. Spearing

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he said. The House is grateful for the further information that it has received. As we are gradually getting more and more information with each debate that is held and each Question that is answered, does he not think that if the Services Committee were enabled to have another look at the question it might provide a detailed report which would save parliamentary time discussing the types of matter which really should not be discussed across the Floor of the House?

Mr. Cooke

The hon. Gentleman will realise that but for an accident of the parliamentary timetable we should never be having this debate at this particular moment. If the House decides to approve the amendment today we shall indeed be charged with the responsibility of taking a further look at the matter. Perhaps we can come to that point in its proper place.

Immediately after the intervention of the hon. Member for Newham, South I have a note of the intervention of the hon. Member for Brixton—I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon. It is Lambeth, Central. It used to be Brixton when he and I were young. I will not follow him in great detail into his complaints, save to say that were all the advice of the Services Committee the subject of a report to the House and debate in the House the House might get very bored with the proceedings.

The hon. Gentleman will recall that we have always done our best to assist him, and that when on one occasion we acted, perhaps somewhat over-spontaneously, to a suggestion of his that we move a piece of equipment in this building for his advantage—we did so because we thought that the request was eminently reasonable and because he looked eminently reasonable when he made the request—we ran into one hell of a row with about 20 other Members. So we land ourselves in trouble by trying to assist a particular Member or group of Members.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will devote to our minutes the careful scrutiny he usually devotes to these matters. Although he may not approve of some expenditure, which flowed from a minute that he quoted, he will find before long that very substantial savings are to be made in the domestic expenditure of the House, though this may have the effect of considerably inconveniencing some Members, perhaps even the hon. Gentleman himself. However, we are always conscious of the need to be as economic as possible, when we have the advice of 634 Members of the House and we, in turn, have to advise Mr. Speaker. We are an advisory Committee.

Mr. Lipton

Will the hon. Gentleman answer one short query? Why is it that the Minutes of the Proceedings of the Select Committee on House of Commons (Services) on 25th January and 1st February have been published but no report has been submitted to the House for its sanction?

Mr. Cooke

I thought that I had answered that during the course of my remarks which preceded the hon. Gentleman's intervention. Not everything that we do is subject to a formal report to the House. Nor, indeed, could it be. However, the minutes are designed to be as informative as possible within the bounds of parliamentary procedure. The point will be taken. If we have not been as informative as we should be within the rules, which are not designed by our Select Committee, I assure the hon. Gentleman that we will try to be more forthcoming in future.

I must try to deal briefly now with some of the charges that hon. Members have made to the effect that those who serve us in the House and outside it are most unhappy about the proposed change in relation particularly to the size of the printed page. The Librarian confirms that he has no objection to the proposed change.

I might reflect en passant that practically every shelf in the House of Commons Library is adjustable. Some hon. Members may have fixed shelves for bound volumes of Hansard but I can assure the House that there are enough bound volumes of the present size still to come—because we are behind in our production—to fill up most of the vacant spaces on their shelves. Hon. Members should not feel too put out about that. They can anticipate the change in size by having their next bookcases made to fit it.

The Table Office has confirmed that it has no objections. The Deliverer of the Vote has also said that he accepts it but adds that some of the shelves may have to be adjusted. However, I have examined the Vote Office and the shelves will take A4 documents. The Editor of Hansard also confirms his view.

Perhaps some individual members of staff who have not studied the report in detail have expressed views to hon. Members, but we have confirmation in writing from heads of departments.

The House will now want to come to a decision on the matter.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)

Will my hon. Friend tell the House what will happen to the strikebreaking machinery that we installed downstairs at great expense for producing Orders of the Day when we do not receive them? Does the proposal allow the use of that machinery?

Mr. Cooke

I do not agree with my hon. Friend's description of the machines. I am happy to inform my hon. Friend that the copying machines print on A4 paper and that that will be convenient should breakdowns occur in the future. There will be an economy, because the present size leaves waste paper round the edges.

I think that I have answered all the points that have not already been dealt with by the Lord President. Hon. Members must realise that the present bound volumes of Hansard are incredibly clumsy. They are too thick to hold if one has to handle more than two or three at a time. They are unmanageable. If we use the new size the volumes would not be so thick and would be more attractive and manageable. The issue is one upon which the House must make its judgment.

I knew at the outset of the debate, when an immodest number of compliments were directed at me, that they would soon be replaced by a few mud pies from hon. Members, including my hon. Friends. The Select Committee does its best to be as forthcoming as procedures allow. Procedures can be something of a straitjacket on occasions, but we try to bend them as much as possible.

We have initiated periodic morning sittings in the Committee Room, to which any hon. Member can come and make suggestions. The next of these will be on Thursday week. It will appear on the all-party Whip. I hope that the 633 other hon. Members of the House will bear that in mind, and either send suggestions in writing or appear before the Committee personally.

5.54 p.m.

Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)

I wish to take part in the debate particularly to apologise to the Lord President because, on 18th January, when we last discussed the matter, I complained in strong terms that he was not present to guide us. He had a good reason for not being present. Now that he is less busy he is able to be with us. I am sorry that I have only just arrived in the Chamber but there are other things happening upstairs and I was in a Committee. I was staggered to see on the annunciator that we were nearly at the end of the day. I wonder what is happening to Parliament these days.

The Lord President is a man not only of words spoken but of words written. He is a man of books. I hope that I am not betraying a confidence but he once said to me in a taxi that he was a slow reader of books of about the size of the present Hansard. I do not know whether he will be a quicker reader when it is possible for him to pick up a book the size of the London telephone directory, which is now proposed.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Cooke) said that the proposed form will not be so thick when bound. I am glad to hear that because a book of the size proposed would be, if it were as thick, even harder to hold.

In our previous debate I told the House of my reading habits of Hansard and I said that I read it in bed. It is difficult to read a book of the proposed new size in bed.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

It helps one get to sleep.

Mr. Crouch

I read Hansard to get to sleep and sometimes I get to sleep more quickly than at other times.

Mr. Clement Freud (Isle of Ely)

It depends on the size of the bed.

Mr. Crouch

That is a typical Liberal remark. I do not wish to make jokes about this matter.

A man such as the Lord President, who is a man of books as well as of words, must surely be able to advise the House whether the new large size is the best size to read or whether the present size is best. After all, we are discussing Parliament's most important reading matter. The Lord President has written books that we queue up to buy. He has writen about former leaders of his party and other political issues. Those books were not published in the proposed new size. Presumably that is because publishers are convinced that a smaller size is more practical. I am therefore surprised that we should venture towards the size of the London telephone directory instead of agreeing the size that every publisher in the country regards as suitable for both fiction and non-fiction. As Hansard covers both those forms of literature, we should stick to the most convenient size to read.

One of the most successful publications in the world is Reader's Digest, which is slightly smaller than Hansard. I do not read that publication. It could be said that I neither read nor digest it. That is not a new joke but a regurgitated joke. It is a convenient size whereas the proposed new size will prove to be inconvenient.

I shall not go into the matter of the size of library shelves but it is a problem that I hope the Government will consider.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

What about letter boxes?

Mr. Crouch

I have argued about letter boxes before and I withdraw my complaint. I complained about letter boxes because at the time we were having many late night sittings. I argued that hon. Members go home at night tired and in the morning when the postman delivers their breakfast-time Hansard, they are forced out of bed before they want to rise. I said that that is tiring for hon. Members. I now believe that that argument is wrong because it is possible for Hansard to be left on the doorstep to be collected whenever convenient. That is not the most important point.

The most important point must be concentrated on the format of the book itself. Is it a suitable size? I have given further thought to this matter, and I still maintain that it is not a suitable size. We are working towards something for the convenience not of the House, not of Members, and not of readers of Hansard and students of parliamentry proceedings outside the House, but of the producers, the printers. That is not the proper priority that we should be giving to this matter. It should be whether the proceedings of Parliament may be read conveniently, quickly and easily.

It is one of the wonders of Parliament that we receive our proceedings, recorded so accurately, at 10 o'clock in the morning of the day after our proceedings. That is something on which I always comment to my constituents, who never cease to be amazed about lots of things that go on here, and that above all. Particularly do I comment on this to foreign visitors whom I bring here. I am very proud of the fact.

Incidentally, thanks to the Lord President, we have recently seen a great improvement in the printing of parliamentary papers for some Select Committees—particularly the Public Accounts Committee—which are now arriving on my desk within a week of the proceedings taking place. There has been a great improvement in recent months. All these things are excellent. However, it is a mistake for us to move towards changing to a format that will not suit Members of Parliament and other students of parliamentary business.

6.1 p.m.

Mr. Foot

If the House will permit me, I should like to reply very briefly to the debate.

I should like to comment first on the remarks of the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch). I assure him that since 18th January there has hardly been any subject that has dominated my mind more than his bedtime reading. I have applied my mind to this matter from that point of view, so I hope that I shall be able to relieve his anxieties in these matters.

I genuinely believe—I know that these are matters of taste—that the format of the new Hansard which would be available under these proposals would be an improvement on that which we have today. I am not criticising the Hansard that we have today. I entirely agree with what the hon. Gentleman says about the miracle of printing production, which has supplied hon. Members with Hansard in a better way, I believe, than almost any other Parliament in the world is served.

A great deal of that credit goes to the printers. I have always been very interested in the subject because I have lived my life almost with printer's ink in my veins. I am very interested in the whole matter. However, I honestly believe that the new product is better than the old, from the point of view of not only those who will produce it but those who will consume it. I even believe that it will be easier to handle in bed.

In that regard, in handling the present Hansard one often finds that the last word in a lot of columns is difficult to read, which is calculated to play hell with the best literary styles. There are some difficulties in reading the present Hansard. The new product will in some respects be easier to read.

My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) commented on the printing and the type. Some decisions have still to be made about the printing and the size of type. However, I believe that the House will find that the new product will be better from the point of view of reading than the old, although obviously there are questions of taste.

The hon. Member for Windsor and Maidenhead (Dr. Glyn) asked whether we could not have a wider column and whether that would be better. Here again, anyone who has studied the matter and has experience in these matters—the newspapers have obviously applied their minds to this subject—will know that a wider column is much more difficult to read. In my opinion, the best made up newspapers are those that have studied the matter and have somewhat narrower columns so that the eye can rest on them more easily. A column as wide as that suggested by the hon. Gentleman would be found to be very hard on people's eyes. I believe that our proposal, so far from being one that is found inconvenient, as well as being cheaper will be more convenient as a whole.

Dr. Glyn

We were discussing economies, and if one takes out the middle margin that achieves an economy. One column of the proposed new Hansard is equal in width to nearly two columns of the existing Hansard.

Mr. Foot

The proposal is made partly on grounds of economy, but I am replying partly to the hon. Member for Canterbury. If the economies had involved a diminution of the convenience of the House, we should not do this. But I do not believe that they do. In many respects, they involve an improvement for the House.

Certainly the proposal involves—this is the origin of the whole matter in a sense—an improvement in the process of ensuring that in the future we shall have what we have been so proud of in the past—a proper supply of parliamentary papers. What has happened over recent years is that that supply has been interfered with on a number of occasions, partly because the amount of papers that have to be printed has become so much greater and, therefore, the burden on the machines and printers has become much greater. Therefore, we have had to look for ways of using new technology to supply the House with what it wants and to maintain, and possibly to advance, the standards that we have had in the past. That is where the hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Cooke) has helped us so much in examining the possibilities and coming to the House with this proposal.

Mr. Spearing

The whole House is not against advance technically in this respect. What we are hesitant about is the size of the new Hansard. My right hon. Friend has told the hon. Member for Windsor and Maidenhead (Dr. Glyn) that a wider column is more difficult to read and that is why we should not have that. But is it not a fact that the new arrangements that my right hon. Friend says would be an improvement have columns that are wider than the present column, which has served this House very well without complaint since 1806? Why does my right hon. Friend want to change it?

Mr. Foot

That is a different question. It is a slightly wider column, but what the hon. Member for Windsor and Maidenhead was proposing was a column that went right across the page. I was contesting that. I do not believe that that would be convenient. Indeed, it would be much more tiring and difficult in the end. However, the slightly wider colmun involved in this proposal does not involve any criticism of the same kind. As has been indicated in the previous discussions, the actual typography will be improved under the proposal.

My hon. Friend has criticised the timing of the previous debate. The criticism does not rest with the Services Committee. There may be legitimate criticisms to be made of that Committee on other grounds, but the idea that it has been seeking to press its proposals at some time that is not convenient to the House is wrong. The decisions as to when these matters are put down are made in the main by myself and those in charge of the Government's business. The Opposition can criticise these matters if they wish, and others may raise them. However, on many occasions we have to secure the debating of these matters at times that are late in the day. That is due to the general business of the House. The fact that we have had this debate at a somewhat different time today may be of assistance in dealing with some future business of the Services Committee.

We shall take account of the representations made by the House, but I hope that the House will now be willing to proceed to accept the report, because it would not be sensible for us to drag on these discussions, as my hon. Friends have suggested in the amendment.

Some of the points raised in the amendment are quite legitimately raised. I do not say that in any patronising sense. Indeed, one of the things that are of absolutely essential importance to the proper functioning of the House is that all Committees are answerable to the House and that all of them can secure support for what they propose only if they can get it through this Chamber itself. No one is more insistent on that doctrine than I.

Therefore, I do not complain about my hon. Friends raising the matter or putting

down an amendment and asking that we should debate the question. However, some of the issues raised by my hon. Friends—indeed, most of the matters that they have raised—have been answered by the hon. Member for Bristol, West or in what I said earlier. All the Officers of the House who had observations to make on the matter were properly consulted and gave their views. Some of them were neutral about the question. Others might favour it. But it is for the House of Commons to decide what it should do. It is not a matter for any Government vote or on which objectionable people such as Patronage Secretaries are allowed to poke in their noses, or anything of that sort. It is entirely a matter for the House.

I believe that this is a reasonable proposal and that, thanks largely to the hon. Member for Bristol, West, the question has been studied with great care. I hope, therefore, that my hon. Friends will be ready not to press their amendment, which has enabled us to debate some of these matters, and that we can proceed to adopt this report, which will mean that in the years to come—the proposal does not come into operation immediately—we shall supply a better service for the House. We shall sustain the good parts of the service that we have. We have a chance of improving the service but if we do not do what is proposed now there will be a real danger of deterioration in the service and the House would be responsible for that. I hope that on these grounds the House will be prepared to accept the Select Committee's Report.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House proceeded to a Division—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

There seems to be some mystery as to where the Tellers have disappeared. Therefore, I call the Division off and I shall put the Question again in a moment.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 175, Noes 83.

Division No. 87.] AYES [6.10 p.m.
Alison, Michael Banks, Robert Berry, Hon Anthony
Anderson, Donald Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Biggs-Davison, John
Arnold, Tom Beith, A. J. Blenkinsop, Arthur
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Boscawen, Hon Robert
Atkinson, Norman Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)
Braine, Sir Bernard Gray, Hamish Neubert, Michael
Bray, Dr Jeremy Grimond, Rt Hon J. Newens, Stanley
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Grist, Ian Ogden, Eric
Brooke, Peter Grylls, Michael Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Brotherton, Michael Hall, Sir John Park, George
Buchan, Norman Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Parry, Robert
Buck, Antony Hampson, Dr Keith Pavitt, Laurie
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye) Pendry, Tom
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Penhaligon, David
Canavan, Dennis Havers, Sir Michael Reid, George
Carlisle, Mark Hicks, Robert Rhodes James, R.
Carmichael, Neil Holland, Philip Richardson, Miss Jo
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Hooley, Frank Rifkind, Malcolm
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Hooson, Emlyn Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Clark, William (Croydon S) Hordern, Peter Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Clegg, Walter Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Rooker, J. W.
Clemitson, Ivor Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Hunt, David (Wirral) Sandelson, Neville
Cope, John Hutchison, Michael Clark Sedgemore, Brian
Cowans, Harry James, David Selby, Harry
Craigen, Jim (Maryhill) Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Crawshaw, Richard Jeger, Mrs Lena Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)
Crouch, David Jessel, Toby Silverman, Julius
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Sinclair, Sir George
Cryer, Bob Kilroy-Silk, Robert Skinner, Dennis
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Lambie, David Spearing, Nigel
Deakins, Eric Lamond, James Spriggs, Leslie
Dempsey, James Lamont, Norman Sproat, Iain
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Lawrence, Ivan Stallard, A. W.
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Lawson, Nigel Stanbrook, Ivor
Drayson, Burnaby Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Stewart, Rt Hon Donald
Durant, Tony Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Stradling Thomas, J.
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Tapsell, Peter
Edge, Geoff Litterick, Tom Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Loyden, Eddie Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
English, Michael Luce, Richard Thompson, George
Eyre, Reginald Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Fairbairn, Nicholas McCusker, H. Viggers, Peter
Fairgrieve, Russell McDonald, Dr Oonagh Wakeham, John
Finsberg, Geoffrey MacGregor, John Wall, Patrick
Fisher, Sir Nigel McNamara, Kevin Ward, Michael
Flannery, Martin Madden, Max Warren, Kenneth
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mellalieu, J. P. W. Watt, Hamish
Fookes, Miss Janet Marten, Neil Weetch, Ken
Forrester, John Mather, Carol Whitlock, William
Freud, Clement Mawby, Ray Winterton, Nicholas
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Wise, Mrs Audrey
Gardner, Edward (S. Fylde) Mikardo, Ian Wool, Robert
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Young, David (Bolton E)
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Mills, Peter Younger, Hon George
Gilbert, Dr John Moate, Roger
Glyn, Dr Alan Molloy, William TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gourlay, Harry Molyneaux, James Mr. Marcus Lipton and
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Mr. Tim Sainsbury.
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Mudd, David
Abse, Leo Grant, John (Islington C) Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King
Archer, Peter Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Nelson, Anthony
Armstrong, Ernest Harper, Joseph Newton, Tony
Ashton, Joe Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Noble, Mike
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Hawkins, Paul Parker, John
Bishop, E. S. Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Perry, Ernest
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Price, William (Rugby)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Hunter, Adam Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)
Buchanan, Richard Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael John, Brynmor Roderick, Caerwyn
Cohen, Stanley Jones, Barry (East Flint) Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Coleman, Donald Jones, Dan (Burnley) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Concannon, J. D. Kinnock, Neil Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Le Merchant, Spencer Sillars, James
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Lester, Jim (Beeston) Sims, Roger
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli) Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Small, William
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) McCartney, Hugh Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund McElhone, Frank Snape, Peter
Doig, Peter MacKenzie, Gregor Steel, Rt Hon David
Dormand, J. D. Marks, Kenneth Stott, Roger
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Eadie, Alex Maynard, Miss Joan Tinn, James
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Montgomery, Fergus Townsend, Cyril D.
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Urwin, T. W.
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
George, Bruce Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Weatherill, Bernard Woodall, Alec TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Whitelaw, Rt Hon William Wrigglesworth, Ian Mr. Ioan Evans and
Williams, At Hon Alan (Swansea W) Mr. Ted Graham.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House declines to agree with the Select Committee on House of Commons (Services) in their First Report since no Report concerning the proposed changes of printing arrangements for Parliament has been made available to this House; and calls upon the Services Committee to provide more comprehensive information, including evidence taken from the Officers of the House before presenting a further Report.