HC Deb 26 January 1978 vol 942 cc1695-747

7.50 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 wth the Select Committee on House of Commons (Services) in their Fourth Report in the last Session of Parliament relating to the size of Hansard.

Mr. Speaker

I inform the House that I have accepted the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing).

Mr. Foot

It is now eight months since the House last debated the matter, and I hope that it will help if I remind hon. Members of some of the essential facts.

The production of Hansard for the House presents difficulties of a special sort. It is currently printed in large royal octavo on machines in the St. Stephen's Parliamentary Press. The machines are about 30 years old and urgently in need of replacement. The standard of service in the production of Hansard has most regrettably fallen in recent years. That has been due partly to the age of the printing equipment used, coupled with the continuing substantial increase in the amount of material to be printed each night. There has been an astonishing increase over recent years. This situation means that it is essential to re-equip the St. Stephen's Parliamentary Press, and arrangements are in hand for doing that on the basis of the most up-to-date machines.

Our first aim has been to enable the Stationery Office to restore the standard of service to its previous high level, a level that the House has every right to expect. Even with the comparative decline of recent years it is still of a high standard, and I believe that most people will agree that it is a considerable printing feat. On the other hand, we wish to restore the very high standard, and one way in which the proposed change will help to fulfil that aim is that the slightly larger page size of A4, as compared with the present size of Hansard, will mean fewer pages being required. That in turn will mean considerably less collating and stitching and, therefore, quicker service and maximum savings in running costs. We must remember that successive Governments have placed upon the Stationery Office the responsibility of not only main- taining an appropriately high standard of service to the House but operating as far as is practicable on a reasonably commercial basis.

The capital cost of re-equipping the presses for the printing of Hansard would be £200,000 greater in large royal octavo than in A4. The additional running costs for large royal octavo would be about £40,000 a year. Moreover, no British rotary presses for printing Hansard in its present size are, as standard, available. If we retain the present size, we shall therefore need to purchase a press of foreign manufacture. I am sure that is one of the factors that the House will weigh in its mind. If we had to take the decision to purchase a foreign press in order to be able to continue the printing of Hansard, I am sure that the Services Committee and those responsible for making such arrangements would be subject to legitimate criticisms both in the House and elsewhere. That is one of the factors that has entered into the mind of the Services Committee in making its recommendation.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg (Hampstead)

Did the right hon. Gentleman say that there is no standard British machine to print Hansard in its present size, and did he go on to say that it would not be possible to get a British machine purpose made?

Mr. Foot

I said that it would not be possible to get a British machine to manufacture the size that we want, and that is one of the factors that the House must weigh. It seems, from all the inquiries that we have made, that if the House stood by the original earlier decision to stick to the present size of Hansard, we should be forced to go for foreign presses.

Several hon. Members


Mr. Foot

If hon. Members will forgive me, I wish first to place before the House the facts as we see them. I believe that that may help the House in its proceedings.

When the issue was debated last May I drew attention to the fact that the proposal had been thoroughly examined by the Select Committee on House of Commons (Services) and endorsed in its Fourth Report in that Session. Those who recall our earlier debates will know that a motion was legitimately passed by the House asking for further investigations to be made. Those investigations took place prior to our previous debate.

Officials of the House concerned with this matter had also been consulted and had favoured the change in size for a variety of reasons. At that time it was hoped that an early decision to change to A4 would enable a new press to be established and equipped so as to be operational in the latter part of 1979. It now seems improbable that a new press could be established and functioning before 1980. I have taken a look at our previous debates, and it may be helpful to the House if I now mention some of the points that hon. Members then raised.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) expressed what I believe to be a sense of apprehension on the part of a number of hon. Members. My hon. Friend feared—I do not say that it was his only fear—that the change proposed would constitute a precedent affecting other parliamentary papers. I assure the House once again that the proposed change in the size of Hansard stands alone to be considered on its merits. Any proposals for a change in the size of other parliamentary papers would need to be considered similarly and debated by the House.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

I have not referred to the earlier debates, but one of the arguments advanced was that installing machinery for a new A4 size would achieve substantial economies if the other parliamentary papers were changed to that size. Is my right hon. Friend now saying that that is not the intention and not now part of the argument, although it was about six months or seven months ago?

Mr. Foot

We have not yet reached that stage. I am saying that if we were to make the change, we should have to go to the House and get its agreement. That would be necessary if we were to make a change in the production of the other papers by new methods. The House would have to weigh the arguments. That does not alter the fact that the House has to take the responsibility of weighing the present arguments.

Mr. Clement Freud (Isle of Ely)

Bearing in mind that the Services Com- mittee sanctioned the purchase of a great deal of German china, why is there this sudden reluctance to buy printing presses from Germany?

Mr. Foot

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will recall that there was a certain amount of protest, and in my opinion legitimate protest, when those purchases were made. This is not a Government matter, it being for the Services Committee to make recommendations to the House, every hon. Member being entitled to his own view as to the way in which we should proceed. I well remember the furore that arose over the purchase of the china from abroad. If we had gone ahead with the proposal on the original plan and had not come to the House and said "By doing this we shall have to purchase presses from abroad", the protest would have been very strong and, in my opinion, legitimate.

One of the further reasons—I hope it is almost a conclusive reason—why we have come back to the House is exactly that. My hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Moonman), who speaks on behalf of printing unions as well as others, will be able to illustrate that further if he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. But certainly those who do the job of printing Hansard are entitled to have their opinions known to the House, too. I have not the slightest doubt, from the representations of my hon. Friends on this matter—they have special knowledge of these unions—and the representations of the National Graphical Association, of the strength of their feelings. I have no doubt about what would be a further injury to the morale of those engaged in producing Hansard in the efficient way in which they do that if we were to go for the foreign purchase after the representations that have been made.

Mr. Freud

So there has been a change of heart?

Mr. Foot


Mr. Freud

I welcome it.

Mr. Foot

If I were winning the hon. Member's enthusiastic support, I would not want to say anything that might deter him from continuing in that virtuous path. It is almost an incitement to me to sit down immediately. However, I shall continue for only a very brief period. It seems that I can do more for hon. Members by my silence than by oratory. I shall be happy to turn to that instrument very swiftly. I shall draw shortly to my peroration, but there are one or two other facts that I want to place on record.

The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton), together with several others, was concerned about the convenience of the proposed size. Much of our debate turned upon that. The new size was thought to be less suitable as a book at bedtime and more likely to become stuck in letter boxes. In fact A4 is less than two inches wider than large royal octavo and, since the individual copies of Hansard will be much slimmer, they will be more readily folded than the present volumes. A large number of magazines throughout the world are already printed in A4 and I do not imagine that the commercial publishers have adopted a size calculated to discourage readership.

I know that the question of the size of Hansard is a matter of taste. All of us have a different taste. The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) raised this matter in previous debates. Perhaps he has been converted.

Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)

indicated dissent.

Mr. Foot

I must not let my optimism run away with me. However, I know that the hon. Member strongly takes the view that a product of the proposed size is not easy to read in bed, and therefore he is against it on that account. Of course, Hansard has many assets, but can it be said to be easy to read in bed? In order get to the inside columns one has almost to tear it apart. Of course, it may improve the speeches of some hon. Members if one misses out every three or four words, but as for reading Hansard in bed, that is one of the disadvantages. I would recommend the new size of Hansard on its aesthetic merits as well as for the reasons which I have already indicated and which I believe are the overwhelming reasons why we should proceed with the change.

The hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell), who has also shown a special interest in this matter in our various debates, was concerned about size particularly in relation to the bound volumes. At the suggestion of the hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Cooke), to whom we all owe a great debt of gratitude for the work that he does for the House generally, the Controller of the Stationery Office has produced specimens of bound volumes of Hansard in A4 and these have been exhibited in the Library. This debate should be a better informed debate than our previous debates because of the volumes that have been supplied for every hon. Member to see for himself. Now that hon. Members have seen them. I feel sure that they will regard them as an improvement on the present volumes. However, I have always held the view that we were not asking the House to make any sacrifice in terms of taste and the form of the product. I believe that in many respect there is an improvement.

I am most grateful to the hon. Member for Bristol, West, who, with his colleagues on the Committee, has devoted so much time to this subject. For my part, I should like to leave this issue with the House for its consideration on the basis of three aspects which I regard as of particular significance.

First, we are concerned today only with the size of Hansard. Any other changes in the size of parliamentary papers which may subsequently appear desirable will be for subsequent consideration and debate by this House on their merits. I give that undertaking especially to my hon. Friend for Basildon, but to others as well.

Mr. Ronald Bell (Beaconsfield)

Will the right hon. Gentleman clarify that undertaking? It is meaningless unless he guarantees that if that were to arise in the future he would not use the argument of precedent that we had already changed the size of Hansard and bought presses to print Hansard and it only made common sense to use the presses for other parliamentary papers. Can we be assured that that argument would not be employed and that we really would consider the question on its isolated merits?

Mr. Foot

The House will make up its mind on the merits. On this subject no one can say that the House has not exercised its will and freedom in the way in which it has wished. It is difficult to persuade hon. Members to take a different view when they have come firmly to a conclusion on this question. I cannot say what would be the arguments presented by future Leaders of the House, if there were to be any, or what may sway hon. Members in the future. However, what I can guarantee is that as long as I am responsible, with others on the Services Committee, for the recommendations that we make to the House, we would not propose and could not propose to proceed to go for the change for other papers without coming to the House, and the House then being able to make up its mind on the merits of the matter as to whether it wanted to proceed to further changes.

Secondly, the new Hansard Press must be established on a thoroughly sound basis. From the point of view of the consumer, this House must be entitled to expect a reliable and efficient service. If we do not take this decision now, the Services Committee, which has examined the matter carefully, cannot give a guarantee that the service will be sustained even at its present level, and certainly cannot give a guarantee that we shall be able to restore the service as we would all wish. That is the considered judgment not of myself alone but of all of those who have been associated with this matter on the Services Committee.

The House itself will have to take the responsibility. If this proposal is rejected once more, then over the years there will be, we believe, a deterioration in the service for Members of the House. We must give that warning quite plainly. I say that having had consultations with those who do the job, the printers, and their opinions also have every right to be respected.

Mr. Michael English (Nottingham, West)

My right hon. Friend has made a very serious forecast, because he has presumably forecast that the deterioration that has occurred over recent years in the service provided to the House would increase and that the situation would get worse. We all know that the printing industry is not very efficient, but surely my right hon. Friend is not saying that this deterioration in the past and prospective deterioration in the future is caused simply by the size of Hansard?

Mr. Foot

I do not say that it is caused by the size of Hansard. It has been caused by the machinery, which needs replacement, and the most efficient form of replacement is that which we recommend. We have gone into the matter with great care. There has been a decline over recent years. I am not making any criticism of that decline. Those who do the printing have had to contend with considerable difficulties.

The morale of the people who actually do the work is a matter that should be respected by hon. Members, particularly those who have been associated, as I am proud to be able to say for myself, with the printing industry in one form or another all my life. I believe that compositors, especially, are people whose opinion on printing must be looked at and respected. When they, too, say to us "If you neglect our advice, do not be surprised if you suffer a deterioration in the product", it is right for the House to take note, just as the Services Committee has already taken notice.

Lastly, the third reason why I urge the House to proceed in this way is that a firm decision is urgently needed. If we are to restore the Stationery Office to the previous high standards of service which the House has enjoyed, we must now give it a clear decision about this form of investment. If we blur it again, we shall have done a very poor service to the House of Commons. When we discussed this matter on the previous occasion I urged hon. Members, who listened and studied the matter and looked at it most carefully before we came to the House, to come to that conclusion.

I couple these reasons with the warning that, if the House now rejects the long considered advice of its Services Committee, a deterioration will take place over a number of years. It would be a great pity for the House to make that choice. We now have a chance to make a better choice. It was with that in mind that I brought this matter to the House.

8.10 p.m.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg (Hampstead)

I beg to move, to leave out from first 'House' to end of the Question and add instead thereof welcomes proposals for improving printing arrangements for Parliamentary Papers, but requires any change in their sizes to be measurements no larger than that of the present Official Report (Hansard)". Very few facts have emerged from what the Lord President has said tonight. He made great play of the change of machinery, the problems that would arise, and the difficult choice between British and foreign machinery, but not one syllable about this choice appears in the report of the Services Committee. It was not put to the Committee in evidence. Not one word was said about it, but the Lord President has made an enormous amount of it. If there is new evidence, the Lord President and the Services Committee have had eight months to put a further report to the House. They have not chosen to do so. There is not a shred of evidence to back up what the Lord President said. If there were, the Services Committee would have produced it to help him in what is, I hope, his impossible task tonight.

The Lord President said that the proposed change to the new size stands on its own and that future decisions will be taken on their merits. The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfied (Mr. Bell) rightly asked the Lord President what that would mean. He was cagey. Let me tell the House what it would mean.

First, I ask the Lord President whether the idea originated from the Services Committee or whether it was some bright idea of the Stationery Office. I do not believe that it came from the Services Committee, because I cannot find the evidence. I am sure that in a year or so's time someone in the Stationery Office will say to the Lord President "As Chairman of the Services Committee you are not really using the equipment correctly. The way to save money is to standardise all the sizes on this new machinery." The Lord President would then say to the House "I am sure that the House will not be stupid and throw away this chance of saving much more money." Whatever tone he used, that is what he would have to say.

The step towards that decision is made tonight. If we make the decision to accept the Services Committee report, all the other battles will be lost. It is no good the Lord President saying that we should have the opportunity to take different decisions. Tonight is the watershed and the House would be well advised to remember that.

I hoped that in his conclusion the Lord President would make a reference not to reading the Spectator but to the "Ham and High" or Punch, both of which are different sizes. However, one does not carry them every day in one's pocket, whereas Hansard is a tool of our work.

The Lord President said that we have to decide three matters. The first was the size of Hansard. He said, and I believe him, that in his present capacity he would ensure that any subsequent changes would be put before the House. But does that stand up? We are taking a decision on the size of Hansard and it would be used against us on future occasions.

The Lord President said that the press must be established on a sound basis. I have not seen any opposition from any hon. Members to putting the press on a sound basis. The Lord President tried to scare us by saying that if we did not adopt the proposal we should have a deteriorating service. All we can do is to rely on the Fourth Report of Session 1976–77. That matter does not come up in that report in the form that the Lord President mentioned. I do not propose to rely on the First Report of Session 1976–77, which was an attempt to get the motion through on the nod at 1 a.m. when the memorandum had not even been printed for our convenience.

The Lord President wanted a clear decision. I agree with him. But the House thought that it had taken a clear decision before. This is the fourth time that this matter has been debated. But the Lord President will not accept the decision of the House. I hope that tonight the House will show firmly that it wants none of this proposal to change the size of Hansard.

I am not, as is popular, a permanent critic of the Services Committee. Indeed, as one who sat on the Committee for four years, I pay a genuine tribute to the hard work that it does. However, it cannot always be right. It can receive expert evidence, but the analysis of the evidence does not necessarily mean that the expertise given to it is interpreted correctly. We must come to our conclusions from the evidence that we are permitted to read in the Select Committee's report. I say that there is no evidence on the foreign machinery aspect. If it was there, I should gladly examine it, but it is not. If it was given to the Select Committee, we are not privy to it.

I join in the tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Cooke). I am sorry that he will have to say something as Chairman of one of the Sub-Committees, because he does not deserve any criticism. Loking at my hon. Friend's impedimenta, I am sure that he will be able to show us a delightful bound volume. I am sure that he will say that we should get away from this nasty blue colour and have a volume with a coat of arms on the front—whether it is of Ebbw Vale or Hampstead. But my hon. Friend would be the first to admit that there is nothing to stop the Committee from recommending that all future volumes of the present Hansard should be bound in a better colour than the present washed-out powder blue. He can argue about the size but not about the colour.

This saga started at 1.15 a.m. on the night of 17th–18th June 1977. It was only through the vigilance of the hon. Member for Newham, South that the motion did not go through on the nod. For good reasons, the Lord President was not here on that occasion. But even if he had been it would not have helped, because the right hon. Gentleman would still have tried to move the motion and get it through on the nod, as all Leaders of the House love to do, after midnight. I shall be glad to acquit the right hon. Gentleman of that charge, but there is no evidence to allow me to do so. The motion was tabled for 1 a.m., and if circumstances had not prevented him, he would have been there and the same thing would have happened. The debate therefore started at that unearthly hour—[Interruption.] I shall happily give way to the Leader of the House if he disagrees with that point.

Mr. Foot

I disagree with the whole lot.

Mr. Finsberg

That obviously puts us even, so we shall have to leave the House to judge. Hansard proves that the debate came on at 1 a.m. on 18th January, and that cannot be disputed.

One of the points illustrated in that brief debate was that the only documentation available was a report. No evidence was produced. There was merely a small asterisk denoting "not reported". On that occasion the House was told that by use of the new machinery there would be a capital saving of £180,000. The Minister of State, who has sat throughout these debates and contributed to them very gallantly, "chose"—the word he used—to address the House. He made an enormous amount of the argument that there was a need for new machinery. But, as the hon. Member for Newham, South said, that was not the subject of most of the questions put in the debate. They centred on the subject of the size of Hansard, and everyone, even the Minister of State, eventually had to admit that the new machines, chosen in different sizes, could provide the Hansards that the House wanted. Hon. Members clearly agreed that they wanted the new machinery, but they also wanted the same size of Hansard.

My hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) estimated that if the change were made there would not necessarily be a net saving because there would be annual increases in binding costs of about 20 per cent. I think the figure is nearer 5 or 6 per cent., but it is an increase just the same. At 2.6 a.m. the matter was not decided, because those responsible for the Services Committee's report were unable to get sufficient votes to carry the motion

Examples were shown to the House of what might happen if the new size were adopted. Hon. Members pointed out the problems of the sizes of pockets, saying that there was an advantage in having a poacher's pocket which would more easily take some of the daily Hansards. There was also the problem of bound volumes and shelf sizes. No one mentioned that the Hansard-sized envelopes that we now use for sending the document to our constituents would not accept the new size of Hansard without its being folded. Different envelopes would therefore need to be printed.

A further problem would be that of delivery, because existing bound volumes of Hansard go through letter boxes. A specially fat volume, taking in a busy week, might have problems in going through, I concede. There are jumbo-sized letter boxes which those of us who had the misfortune to serve on Camden Borough Council, with its great wodges of agendas, found valuable. The weekly bound volume certainly goes through my letter box.

We were then shown examples of the new size of print. The great advantage of the new size is that one would be able, for example, to see more clearly in the larger print those members of the Government who did not vote tonight for the guillotine motion. However, the type size of the verbatim text would not be the same as in the present Hansard. That could be overcome. No doubt my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West will say that one could have a slightly larger pointage, but that that would mean slightly fewer words per page and, therefore, more pages. That destroys part of the argument advanced in four debates by the Lord President, the Minister of State and my hon. Friend.

These examples do not assist the House in any way. To have large names in the Division lists but a slightly smaller type in the text is the wrong priority. That is not what the House wants.

I come to the Question on 9th March. The reply to it set out many more details about the cost. The important factor there was the contention that the multiplicity of sizes could be avoided if the House took certain decisions. I suggest that the House would probably welcome not having a multiplicity of sizes. It was shown in the reply to that Question and in the debate that one of the new machines could be used exclusively for Hansard. The question arose of what would happen to the machine for the rest of its shifts, and someone put forward the rather quirky suggestion that perhaps telephone directories could be printed on it.

Mr. Crouch

It was said by me.

Mr. Finsberg

It was pointed out in evidence that the machinery would, however, need a rest, that it could not go on printing for three shifts a day, seven days a week. No doubt the House would be perfectly satisfied to have two machines printing in two sizes, but if the House wants to retain the present size of Hansard, it is entitled to do that.

The next debate came on 15th March. We heard then bedtime revelations about the reading of the Spectator and the like. I shall not go into the question of the various bedtime reading habits of colleagues, because that would not be relevant. However, my hon. Friend the Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) contended that if everything were standardised on the present Hansard size, there would be a capital saving in re-equipment of £360,000. That figure has never been denied. It is twice the saving that the House is being asked to accept if it passes the recommendation made by the Services Committee. In addition, there would be an annual saving of £87,000 on manpower. That was at August 1976 prices, so there has been an increase in the possible savings.

That has not been refuted. The only slight refutation came tonight from the Lord President when he threw into the pond this foreign versus British machinery argument. I should accept what he said if he produced evidence to show that we cannot have British-made machinery to produce Hansard in its present size. I accept that we cannot standardise, but I am yet to be convinced that we cannot have British machinery.

The hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham), with his customary verve and effectiveness, poured cold water on the whole idea and called for some information. My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West made it clear that any new machinery would be two new presses—one for Hansard and the other for other papers.

Let us get away from the nonsense of multiplicity—one machine for Hansard and another for the rest. There is no problem in operating two different machines for the convenience of the House. If the House wants to be cost conscious—the Lord President twitted hon. Members on a couple of occasions about wishing to set an example and save money—it can save £360,000 on capital cost by standardising on the present Hansard size for all printing.

On 15th March—column 254 of the Official Report—my hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury), who declared his interest as a director of a printing company, posed certain questions. He made several suggestions about a special web press, a variety of sizes and a single column. But his suggestions have not been considered. There is not a word about those matters in the Select Committee's Report.

If someone has the answer, why has not the House got the answer in evidence? I do not think that it is possible for answers to be given tonight that would satisfy most hon. Members, because they cannot test them by question and answer with witnesses to ascertain whether there may be any foundation for the view that may be put to us. Until I hear otherwise, I can only conclude that the three or four suggestions made by someone with expertise have not been considered and answered.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West disposed of what was said on the earlier occasion by saying that time and money would be wasted in changing from one size to another because Hansard would go on being printed on one machine. At the end of the day, the House, against the advice of the Lord President, voted by two to one in favour of more information.

The Fourth Report of the Select Committee came out about two weeks later As an ex-member of the Committee, I must be careful what I say. Having failed to deal with at least one point made by the Lord President tonight and the points made by my hon. Friends the Members for Blaby and Hove, that report plaintively called for an early decision or services to the House would suffer.

No one denies that if the Lord President or the Services Committee had accepted the view of the House on previous occasions, the new machinery with the present size could have been on the way to being installed. The only concession I make on the size is that there will be more pages, because hon. Members on both sides of the House talk too much and all Governments produce too much legislation. The remedy is in our hands. If Back Benchers on both sides exerted themselves more, they might restrict all Governments to fewer outpourings and certainly to fewer Statutory Instruments coming from Departments.

The Fourth Report, shown in August 1976 prices, confirmed the saving of £360,000 if we were to standardise on the present size. The report did not take us very much further. However, it gave us that very important figure, and I remind the House again that standardising all our printing on the existing size of Hansard would save twice as much as the Service Committee proposes by making us have this inconvenient size.

I move on to 5th May 1977—eight months ago, as the Lord President said—and I want to quote one or two remarks of the right hon. Gentleman. In his peroration he was talking about printing and he said, without interruption on that occasion: The standard has been extremely high over many years. Over recent years there has been some deterioration in some cases—not because of the failure of the staff "— all of us join in paying tribute to the staff, who do a hard and very good job for the House on inadequate, old machinery— but because of the circumstances themselves and because of the great pressures on our printing arrangements. As one who has spent most of his life in the newspaper trade, I certainly believe that the printing of Hansard is a very fine achievement indeed, but each year it becomes more difficult to accomplish. If we were to neglect all the advice that we have taken on this matter to set all that aside and to say either that we insist on this size of Hansard or something smaller, and that we will accept no other proposition than that, the House of Commons would make a prize fool of itself. I suggest that that was not quite the thing for the Leader of the House to say. However, the House showed what it thought of that comment by rejecting the right hon. Gentleman's advice.

Then the hon. Member for Newham, South put forward an even more pungent argument. The Lord President intervened in the hon. Gentleman's speech and, in reply, the hon. Gentleman said: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend and would not disagree with what he said. Perhaps he is straining a little. There is nothing in what he said with which I disagree, but surely what was referred to was not necessarily a change to A4 but standardisation. This is where the Services Committee and, I suggest, the Lord President are trying, albeit innocently, to mislead the House.

The argument is a simple one. New machinery is needed. That is agreed. There are two types of machinery: one adopting the present size for all our printing, which would save £360,000, and the other having machines which would have different sizes, with a saving of £180,000. For me, that is a simple argument: more efficiency with new machines in both cases, and twice the saving by standardising all our printing on the existing size. I repeat that there is no evidence that the new size just for Hansard will give us everything that the House of Commons wants.

Before I leave the argument on that day perhaps I may quote the hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Spriggs). He said: I would dispute with the Lord President that it is essential to move to the A4 size for Hansard. It will reveal to him that I have read the report very carefully when I remind him that the Controller"— that is, the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office— said just that. On page 2 I found the following very revealing remarks. When asked about the move to the new size, the Controller said: 'I think that there has been a certain amount of misunderstanding here. It has been suggested by a number of people that if you move to the new technology it is absolutely essential to move to the A4 size for Hansard. This is not so. The reason why we want to move to A4 size—and it is, of course, for the House to decide whether we should do this, and I should like to emphasise that—is that the machines in the new technology are in standard commercial practice produced in metric sizes.'"—[Official Report, 5th May 1977; Vol. 931, c. 671–85.] So we are being forced to conform to metric sizes. Apparently, the convenience of the House does not matter—metrication is all that matters. We should not allow ourselves to be taken in by that argument.

No new evidence has come to the House since May 1977. I repeat as emphatically as I can that if there were a shred of evidence the Services Committee would have produced it to bolster up its totally inadequate case. But it has not. Of course, the Services Committee might produce something now, but it could not be evidence because it could not be tested by examining witnesses.

There has been no answer to the questions put on previous occasions. This is yet another attempt by the Leader of the House in the hope of being fourth time lucky. This is a House of Commons matter, and this is no way to treat the House. I hope that we decide to keep the present size of Hansard. I hope that we shall have new machinery and will keep, with that new machinery, the same size of Hansard and save the taxpayer £360,000.

8.42 p.m.

Mr. Eric Moorman (Basildon)

The House has always had among its membership people from the operational side of the printing industry. I am thinking of such distinguished old colleagues as George Isaacs, Will Wilkins, Sir Harmar Nicholls and Albert Murray. Having discussed this issue with one of them tonight, I am bound to say that they would be as concerned as I am that the debate should have taken the rather peculiar form that we have just heard set by the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Fins-berg).

I am concerned that we should see this matter in both parliamentary and operational terms with some element of reality. What I objected to in the hon. Gentleman's speech was that it was, first, a re-run of a series of debates which hon. Members are intelligent enough to have read, if interested. If they are not interested, they will not have read them. Secondly, the hon. Gentleman should recognise that there are occasions when it is difficult for Parliament to take decisions, and when there are matters associated with the running of Parliament, I am not sure that we come out very well in debate, especially when we seem totally unable to take simple decisions.

I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman's detective work is good. We were given a whole series of times and Incidents, all to be found in Hansard. I am not sure that I appreciate his managerial competence. If the hon. Gentleman were able to operate as a manager in the real sense, and looked at the evidence, he would either have said, at the beginning of his very long speech, that we should not proceed, or he might have recognised that there is some advantage in the other case and listened to it. His speech was a most unfortunate presentation.

I have spent a lot of time in the printing industry, having started as a boy and been apprenticed. I have also had substantial management experience in the industry. We are talking here of practical issues. The problem is to be found in the evidence. We are debating this matter because of the increasing volume of material. That is happening in many businesses—there is simply more work to cover. The same sort of problem can be found on newspapers. One cannot argue there too much through the night; the paper must be produced. One cannot suddenly decide to increase the number of pages in the night. The formula for that night is decided the day before—whether there are to be 16 pages or 24, for example.

But that is something that those running Hansard cannot do, because they do not know how much material there will be that night. They have to produce everything that they get from this House. It is right that they should produce it, but let us recognise the technical limitations that are imposed on those obligations.

These are very difficult limitations on the men who have to operate on this basis. There is no understandable limit to the operation. It has to be decided every night. I can only say that as a former "comp" I would not like to do that sort of work. If there is a great volume of work, those concerned have to keep going right the way through.

In the Session 1976–77, the average nightly page content of Hansard was 139. The total number of pages for that Session was 20,864. The number of pages produced in 1964 was 16,442. That increase gives some idea of the scale. We are talking more. We are asking more Questions and doing a whole series of things that 10 years ago we did not even contemplate.

Hon. Members will know what it is like to go into the Table Office just after 10 a.m. hoping that in two weeks' time one will be among the top ten at Question Time. There is simply no chance of that. One is always way down the list—never mind Prime Minister's Question Time. It is the same for every Minister that we have. This is an aspect of the practical problem that we are facing.

The information business has always been a prerequisite of Parliament but it has now taken off. That is why we are having to talk about it this evening. I have mentioned the great increase that has taken place. The number of pages increased from 16,442 in 1964 to 19,174 the following year and to 19,731 in 1966. I have given the figure for the Session 1976–77, and my colleagues in the printing business expect that there will be an increase in the next five years comparable with that which has taken place over the last 10 years. That is the problem we face—the sheer volume and scale.

With that sort of problem facing us, we have to decide how we can cope with it. We cannot ignore it. We are not likely to talk less, although there might be some advantages in that. Certainly shorter speeches might help. How are we to tackle the problem! That is what we have to decide. Anyone outside in business would have to tackle a problem of this sort. Why should not we do so in Parliament? Those who talk about business competence should not leave their ideas outside when they come into this Chamber.

Mr. Spearing

We want very much to take account of the practical difficulties, but will my hon. Friend not agree with me that the things he has mentioned relate to Order Papers, Select Committees and so forth? We are concerned here with the daily Official Report. The additional number of Written Answers is covered by the carry-over. They are not all printed on the same day. How does he reconcile the increased size of Hansard with the fact that the House sits for exactly the same amount of time?

Mr. Moonman

I know that the point was made earlier by my right hon. Friend that we were taking a decision tonight only on the Official Report. I wish that he had gone further than this, because I do not think that it would be necessary for him to come back to the House on this issue. If the House decides tonight that we should move to A4, is that such a big decision that we have to have another debate and more repetition of arguments? Is this to apply to all the other papers?

I accept the need for some co-ordination. I do not think that that is so surprising, although other hon. Members may be surprised by it. It does not take me by surprise. If we are serious about having an element of standardisation, we have to consider the matter properly. My right hon. Friend has been absolutely fair. He said that before we could proceed there would have to be consideration given to it on another occasion. I disagree with him on that. It is a question of the best use of parliamentary time.

There is no doubt that the increasing scale and volume of parliamentary papers give rise to serious technical problems. A colleague from the National Graphical Association came here last night and spoke to a number of Labour Members. He has spent his whole lifetime in industrial negotiations and has great experience in the industry. He has had a chance to look at the machines. His view, very simply, was that it would not be possible to increase the output of those machines. In other words, if a decision is not taken to move to A4, it simply means that we shall have to get a new machine which will print Hansard as it is now. In the printing trade we call that a "bastard" machine. That would present problems which I shall outline in a moment.

By not supporting the Services Committee recommendation a major decision would be taken by this House. It would be a costly decision over the next 15 years. Even the Services Committee has not estimated that cost. It talked about the capital cost, but it has not even understood the practical problem of what it would mean over the long term if we did not change the size.

My view is that we need to vote for the recommendation for some element of common sense. The size of Hansard is not a major political issue. The recommendation to change its size was made after taking into account all the relevant evidence on cost and efficiency. Most people outside this House would think that that was the end of the matter, but we are now into our fourth debate on the subject and we have spent as much time on this matter as on the millions of pounds involved in the reports of the Public Accounts Committee presented only a week or two ago. Why? Because hon. Members refuse to come to terms with reality.

My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) has had some experience of industry.

Mr. English

What a democrat.

Mr. Moonman

Would my hon. Friend have tolerated the sort of argument and counter-argument in his industrial ex perience about the cost of a particular operation?

Mr. English

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. He is a very old friend. We have known each other for a very long time. When I first knew him more than a quarter of a century ago he always believed in accepting majority votes. The House of Commons has made a decision on this. Incidentally, it made the same decision that was made during the nineteenth century in the heyday of the British Empire and its rise and fall. All of a sudden we are told that this cannot be carried out. The only reason it has been brought back here is that people who do not accept majority decisions want to bring it back again.

Mr. Moonman

I, too, recognise our friendship over the years. All I would say is that if there is a different reason for the debate today, I do not know of it and it is up to my hon. Friend to make that point very clear. I would have thought the reason for this debate was to ensure that we took account of some of the information which we have received regarding the buyers of alternative machinery. [HON. MEMBERS "What information do we have?"] The Lord President indicated the problems associated with the cost of machinery, and I am prepared to do so in a moment.

But let us deal with this specific question. Two hon. Members have asked why we are discussing it now and have asked whether the House of Commons has made its decision. If new evidence comes to light which would make the printing and production of Hansard difficult and if the new machinery needed has to come from Germany, I believe that is a good reason for reviewing the arguments.

Indeed, if Parliament has any role in a decision-making process, surely it is important to bring this matter back to the House again. Quite apart from the time lost which could have been spent on matters of greater moment, we are hardly giving a responsible lead to British industry by rejecting the cogent arguments put forward for changing the page size of Hansard from large royal octavo to A4.

The most telling argument must be the guarantee of a more efficient service. There have been a number of occasions over the last couple of years when debates have been held up while hon. Members rightly have been concerned about the production and publication of Hansard I regard this as the tip of the iceberg. Hon. Members complain when their parliamentary papers have not been available in time, and I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, West has been extremely vocal on this score. But those people are not prepared to accept that those papers do not appear with proper frequency not because of industrial disputes involving management and trade unions, but because of the great difficulties in maintaining production through the night. The introduction of A4 would mean fewer pages for printing, collating and stitching, and therefore a quicker service, instead of the present situation when the service is for ever teetering on the edge of breakdown.

Let us take the argument about cost. The move to the A4 size of paper would save £210,000 in capital costs and £39,000 annually in extra handling costs. These are not great sums, but, bearing in mind the economies which are being effected elsewhere, they are savings that should be made. If anybody wishes to reject these arguments, he must stand them on their head, but certainly it is the technical considerations and the ongoing costs which I have most in mind. Those costs have not been mentioned.

Some hon. Members have continued to demand their parliamentary papers in the present size despite all these arguments. It is no good their suggesting that a special machine could be produced. Such a machine could be made, but, once again, there are costs to be met in that process. The temptation would surely be for the authorities to go abroad for that machine. Nobody has yet suggested that we should insist on a British machine; that would mean making up a highly complex set of machinery pieces, and the ongoing costs would be enormous. It is not just a matter of putting the machinery together, but the worrying factor is the substantial ongoing costs. There are a number of concealed costs, or what are known as mystery costs. One would have little knowledge of that side of the matter until one had operated the machine for a couple of years.

Let us not imagine that these considerations are unimportant, because they are vital. The authorities would be led to one conclusion—namely, that we should have to buy such a machine in Germany. I am sure that the manufacturers in Germany would be willing to sell us a special machine. If the House were to take that decision, it would have its consequences in our having to make other excursions into the purchase of foreign goods, and there would be the same anxieties and anger expressed by many people outside the House. I repeat that the technical demands and the ongoing costs would be very great.

Mr. English

My hon. Friend was in favour of the Common Market.

Mr. Moonman

My hon. Friend had his opportunity to express his view on that subject in the vote that took place a little earlier.

The fact is that if we persist in printing Hansard in its present size, we shall have to insist on special plates being made. In some cases those plates will have to be cut down. Furthermore, we should have to use special guillotines and equipment to keep Hansard at its present size. Guillotine costs can be substantial. It would involve special settings. Therefore, we should have to face the costs involved in smaller sizes, additional printing costs and more handling costs.

We may wish to take pride in other matters in the House of Commons, but I do not think we should take any pride in having to introduce an extraordinary machine producing a document of a bastard size unrelated to other publications produced in the House of Commons or in Government Departments. This type of island mentality is worrying. We cannot tell industrialists, trade unionists or our constituents to be more progressive and to look to change when we are not prepared to accept change in our publications.

It is said that one great advantage for the traditional and historical size of Hansard is that it may be put into one's pocket. I do not go around with Hansard in my pocket, and I am not sure that one should be expected to do so. The ideas behind retaining the present size of Hansard are not logical and go against ideas that we are constantly urging those outside the House to adopt.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would like to deal with the cogent point which I have advanced—namely, the saving of £360,000 in capital cost as envisaged by the Services Committee. Does he refute that argument?

Mr. Moonman

The hon. Gentleman did not explain that point. I did not interrupt his speech, but I shall be happy to let him intervene again if he can tell us which savings he is talking about and in relation to which size.

Mr. Finsberg

I think that other hon. Members will confirm that I spoke at great length about the evidence given to the Select Committee—that if the House standardised all its printing to the size of Hansard there would be a £360,000 capital saving. That has not been denied. The Minister has made that point in debates and in answers to questions.

The Minister of State, Civil Service Department (Mr. Charles R. Morris)

The hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Finsberg) has made that point in three ways. He is entitled to do so and he put his case fairly, but let us examine the argument that he is advancing.

He says that there would be savings of £360,000 if we standardised all printing to the present size of Hansard, the royal octavo size, but he is not comparing like with like. The figure of £249,000 which HMSO and I have given is relevant only to the capital and annual running costs. The hon. Gentleman is talking about standardisation on the basis of all printing. If we standardised all our printing to the A4 size, it would result in savings of appreciably more than £360,000.

Mr. Moonman

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. It is extremely useful to have friends.

Let us make this matter of standardisation clear to the hon. Member for Hampstead. My right hon. Friend has been much more generous to him than I am prepared to be. If we were able to bring in that degree of change in standardisation with a bastard size, it would make a total mockery of our ultimate printing. By retaining the royal octavo size we should be deferring the ultimate decision, which is inevitable. That could be delayed by 10 or 15 years because our decision would be so ambiguous, but ultimately it would have to be made.

If it could be suggested that 50 per cent. of the printing and publishing trade were operating on one size and 50 per cent. on another, I should be encouraged to feel that there might be some relevance in the argument of the hon. Member for Hampstead, but this is not what it is all about. It is not 50–50. The Minister was right in saying that we would be setting our face against the whole operation of the British printing industry. I do not mind someone suggesting that we should do that. I respect that view. But why should we do something that is unique when we tell the rest of our industry what we think it should do and legislate for that? Why should we stick to the old size, pay the price and have the extra service? That is the question that has to be answered.

Mr. English

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Can you assist me? The amendment does not say that we should stick to the present size of Hansard. It says something quite different, namely that we do not want documents that are bigger than the present size of Hansard. It does not say that we cannot have smaller documents.

Mr. Moonman

The friendship of my hon. Friend and myself is getting more and more tenuous.

There is a risk here to jobs within the industry. The present machinery at the Parliamentary Press is obsolete. Even the hon. Member for Hampstead would not dispute that. The machines are rapidly becoming obsolete. They have been running for 16 years. If they had not taken such a tremendous pounding they might have operated for 20 years. However, such is the wear and tear on them that the Press will have to be re-equipped whatever our decision. That is without a doubt.

The British printing industry has gone over entirely to A4 on new machinery. New machines to print Hansard in royal octavo would have to be ordered from abroad. We would have another national scandal like that of the German china for the Refreshment Department. It would be wrong to take business away from British industry in this way.

I have had representations from the trade unions involved, which are greatly concerned that such a decision would be made, because inevitably we should have to buy very expensive equipment from abroad. It is not just a matter of buying one piece of equipment. It is a Catch-22 situation. We should be forced to buy other pieces of supporting equipment, because one piece of machinery does not operate by itself. If anybody says that it is possible to say "On this occasion only we will have a piece of equipment and we will go to Germany for it", he is making a mistake. The printing industry does not operate in that way, whatever hon. Members may think about the industry.

We must also consider the staff of St. Stephen's Press. They work under great pressure. My right hon. Friend the Lord President mentioned that the Press had not been without its problems. Some of those problems have been due to the extraordinary strain imposed on it through working under poor conditions with the machinery that the staff have had over the last couple of years. The uncertainty of the future of Hansard printing is seriously affecting the morale of the men.

The introduction of new machines means new manning agreements. If we go for A4, there is no problem. The machinery is standard. The printing industry has a great deal of experience of negotiating agreements. The view of the National Graphical Association and of the other unions associated with these agreements is that it would not be true of imported machinery to print at the current Hansard size that there would be no problems. This could add still further to the uncertainty and the low morale.

On every rational ground our decision should be to accept the recommendations of the Services Committee and authorise the change. I do not know that anyone can adequately deal with all the points associated with the desire to change the size of Hansard. It is important that it is a very good, well researched Services recommendation. If this issue has been before the House on more than one occasion, so be it. If we have got it wrong as a House on most of the occasions, we have a chance to put it right tonight. For those who ask why, having debated it in the past, we should debate it this evening. I say that we are debating it this evening because there is new evidence. We should be making a terrible mistake if we ignored the important information that we have been able to collect over the past few years.

9.8 p.m.

Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)

We have heard a most interesting speech from the hon. Member for Basildon (Mr. Moonman). He spoke feelingly about the printing industry. He speaks with great knowledge about the industry, even though he speaks fast. He covers many pages of Hansard—a lot more than many of us do—in a matter of 10 minutes. He said that the debate was about a decision on machinery. He spoke to that text. I felt that I was about to be taken outside and sold a copy of Hansard if I was not careful, because I think he has got samples somewhere in his locker outside the Chamber.

I agree that we should consider this aspect. We have debated the subject three times and have considered the views of Members of Parliament. We have not perhaps considered enough the views of Her Majesty's Stationery Office. This matter arose from Her Majesty's Stationery Office. It did not come from any Member of Parliament. There has not been a protest about the size of our reading matter. Not a word of complaint has been said from a Member of Parliament to the Services Committee that the present size of Hansard is wrong.

The Controller of the Stationery Office said "The work load is too much at St. Stephen's Press. The presses are out of date. The time has come to modernise, and we can tell you that if we modernise it is best to modernise on a new size of paper. We would suggest we standardise on A4, the Continental size. We can buy machines on the Continent and print on the metric size paper. That would be very convenient. We could print much more efficiently and more quickly. We could deliver your production order on time, as you require, and keep up the unique standards that the St. Stephen's Press and the Stationery Office have managed to achieve."

This Parliament probably has the most excellent service for the delivery of papers, reports of proceedings and the Vote bundle of any Parliament in the world. I take my hat off to those concerned. I acknowledge the efficiency of those who work so skilfully in such an efficient industry. At eight o'clock in the morning the papers are delivered through my letter box not al mile from here. It is remarkable. I can read my own speech while I am still in bed, if I wish. I shall not dwell on the business of bedtime reading. We have had all that. I still read Hansard in bed, and I know others who do so. I cannot give it up. I have a sort of addiction to Hansard.

Only yesterday, anticipating this debate, I wondered whether we should not reduce the size of Hansard. In the Library yesterday I put down the New Statesman. I did not pick up the Spectator, I reached out into the slot beside me, and what did I pick up?

Mr. Jasper More (Ludlow)

Country Life.

Mr. Crouch

It was not Country Life. Believe it or not, I picked up a publication that is said to be for people who cannot read and cannot digest—the Reader's Digest. I was rather impressed by its convenient size. When I am told by the hon. Member for Basildon that we can no longer consider printing on the present size paper, I wonder how the firm that prints Reader's Digest has struggled for so many years printing in 34 countries a publication that is smaller than Hansard.

I wonder why the books that one buys to read not only in bed but elsewhere—on a train or wherever—are of the size of Hansard, of thereabouts. If one wants to decorate one's house with coffee table books, one can buy very large books, and then people admire one's reading. Such books are usually fully illustrated with masses of beautiful pictures, usually in colour. If we are to have Hansard the size of a coffee table book, I shall put in to the Services Committee for a reading stand. I shall do my reading at night standing up, as in a library. If that were to happen, we should have to change all our reading habits. However, I do not wish to be facetious. That would be discourteous to the hon. Gentleman who spoke about the urgent machinery decision that must be made urgently.

The Services Committee said that there were good production reasons why we must change. It said that new presses were needed and that it wanted to go over to the modern system of computer typesetting and lithographic printing machines. I accept that.

The Services Committee was also told "There will be further saving for you and an increase in our efficiency if you will agree on behalf of Parliament to a standardisation of page size for Hansard, the Vote bundle and other things." I do not oppose standardisation. It is rather ridiculous that we have papers of one size and Hansard another size, with a quarter of an inch between them.

We should listen to the experts who tell us that there is a need for modernisation if they are to cope with our increased demands. We should take into account the need for standardisation, but I do not accept—I may be wrong—that the experts have made a good case for the A4 page size. I have been through the evidence again very carefully. Paragraph 15 of the Committee's Fourth Report is very revealing. It says: HMSO's desire to use uniform equipment is therefore readily understandable: standardisation on anything but Crown Quarto would be distinctly advantageous financially. To take the maximum advantage of their opportunity, however, they are anxious to move to the metric equipment which is becoming increasingly standard in the printing world generally as well as with HMSO. This means the A sizes. As the Controller of HMSO emphasised, it is not absolutely necessary to use A4 to gain advantage of new printing technology: ' we could order machines that would print Hansard in the present size, but these machines would have to be tailor-made '". That thought has been exercised already.

Mr. Roger Sims (Chislehurst)

And so would be more expensive.

Mr. Crouch

Of course. I do not mind saying that my concern is not to suit the printer, the printers' union, the production manager or the Controller. I am concerned about Hansard users, those who read Hansard.

Who are the users of Hansard, leaving aside hon. Members?

Mr. More


Mr. Crouch

I shall come to that eventually.

First, let us consider some of the evidence taken by the Committee. The Committee was dutiful and thorough in its work. It tried to investigate every aspect and to obtain all the answers. It sent for many people, including the Librarian, the Clerk of the House, the Principal Clerk of the House, the Editor of Hansard and the Deliverer of the Vote. I was interested in what they all said.

The Deliverer of the Vote, the man who has to produce the copy to send to the printers overnight, was rather less than enthusiastic. He did not condemn the proposed new size, but when asked for his views he said: I need say very little. We do not much like the size from a handling point of view. He went on to say that it would be convenient in other ways but that he would not find it very useful. He said that it would "speed up delivery of documents" but that he did not like it from a "handling point of view." As I have said, he is the man who has to deliver the copy.

I was interested to read the evidence of the Clerk of the House and the Principal Clerk to the House. They said that they accepted the A4 size. Of course, on this issue we very much respect the Clerks' views. They use Hansard. I use it for bedtime reading, but they use it in the course of their work. They did not say one word about A4 being a good size for reading. They said that it would be good if it increased the efficiency of St. Stephen's Parliamentary Press and the delivery by eight o'clock the next morning, and maintained the unique standard of Parliament in printing and delivering its papers. That is how I read what they said. There is not a word in the evidence to suggest that A4 is a good size for a reader, and I am speaking as a user, consumer and reader.

What do Members think? We have already had three debates on this subject and I am rather surprised that we are having another. Why do we have debates and votes if we do not make a decision? The hon. Member for Basildon asks "Why are you holdings things up and setting a bad example outside?" We have not done that. We have already told HMSO that we have decided to standardise on a machine that can produce Hansard in its present size. That is what we are saying now. In effect we are saying "Get on with it".

I have been criticised. I have been told " But you will cost the country another £200,000 or £300,000 ". That extra cost will be spread over 20 years. We are talking about papers for the Mother of Parliaments. What are we quibbling about? Is it being said that we have to have a coffee-table-size book, a book the size of a London telephone directory, because it will save £200,000 or £300,000 over 20 years? Is that being said on the basis "Never mind whether you find it convenient, that is what will be nice for the printers? We should not accept diktat of HMSO, or a controller who reports to the Services Committee.

The Services Committee rightly considered the problem when it was presented to it. It knew that there was a production problem. It realised that an increasing load was being put on St. Stephen's Parliamentary Press. It said "We must look into it". After all, that is why we have the Services Committee. It sent for witnesses and papers, studied the matter, and reported to the House.

When Members were consulted they said—not facetiously—"We do not think that this is a good idea. We want to do everything to help the Stationery Office improve its service, but we do not think that it is a good idea to alter the size of our working document." I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Finsberg) referred to it as our "tool of work". I still do not think that it is a good idea.

All I am trying to say is that, whilst I respect the view that there is a need for the House to give an example of how it can modernise and cope with the new problems and help the Stationery Office to deal with its problem, I think that the Stationery Office as we are its customer, must say "We can produce everything that you want." Can the Stationery Office not produce Reader's Digest?

I was not joking when I said, having referred to the evidence, that there was some evidence from the Stationery Office to the effect that it would be nice to print something else when Parliament was not sitting and that the sort of size that it had in mind was that of the London telephone directory. If the Post Office is to be a more important customer and is to determine the size of the machines and the papers that we carry about and with which we work, the Stationery Office has got its assessment wrong. We are the first customer. Its other spin-off customers which it might pick up while we are in recess, such as the Post Office's Yellow Pages directories, are a secondary consideration. The prime consideration in this decision must be what is right for us.

I do not want to appear to be dog in the manger. It could be that many think that Members who speak and vote as I do are just fuddy-duddy and do not want change. But I do not want a document of the size that is proposed to replace the present size, which is the size that have come to like and to use.

Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

Does my hon. Friend appreciate that those of us who are not fuddy-duddy and play football for the House of Commons football team will find the new recommended size of Hansard quite inappropriate for use as shin pads, whereas the present Hansard is perfect for the job?

Mr. Crouch

Everyone has a reason for having a special love for Hansard. Before you came back to the Chair, Mr. Speaker, I said that I had a certain addiction to Hansard. I can hardly put it down. If I make four speeches in a week, as I did recently—I know that you have kept a record of that, Mr. Speaker—I read Hansard repeatedly in that week, over and over again.

Seriously, however, all of us have a personal interest in this matter, for one reason or another. Much as I respect the valuable views advanced so strongly for the producers, and although I want to accept those views, above all I believe that we must accept the views of the consumers and users in making this decision.

9.23 p.m.

Mr. Michael English (Nottingham, West)

I intended to speak not in this debate but in the next debate. However, I have been almost forced into speaking by the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Moonman). As I have said, he is a very old friend of mine. His knowledge as a compositor is of value to the House.

However, we are in a very strange situation, as the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) has said. We have been a customer for about one and three-quarter centuries for a particular product of the Stationery Office. The Stationery Office has supplied our wants for all that time, but now it stubbornly says that it cannot and will not supply our needs.

My hon. Friend the Member for Basildon and I have differed on political issues from time to time since we both came from Southport. One of the matters on which we differed was that he was a passionate supporter of British entry into the EEC and I was a passionate opponent of that. But now he turns round and says that he does not like the results.

On what evidence, I do not know, but I take my hon. Friend's word for it when he says that if we had to buy these machines, they would have to come from Germany. It is a tremendous comment on the British engineering industry to know that if one wants a machine that will print in a non-metric size, it has to come from a metric industrial country and that, apparently, British industry cannot, according to my hon. Friend, produce a machine that will print in a non-metric size. I am amazed. We all know about the efficiency of German industry, but it appears that it produces both non-metric and metric sizes while in Britain, because of our passion for metrication, our engineering industry has apparently given up producing machines in non-metric sizes.

Mr. Moonman

I said that it was possible to acquire the machine in this country but that it would be rather more costly because it would not be a standardised model. If my hon. Friend is so surprised about the greater range of choice in Germany I can tell him that it is simply because there is a larger outlet in Germany.

Mr. English

This is like the story of the car. More and more cars are bought each year but the increase in demand is directed to imports from Germany and Japan. In this case British industry apparently can make something in a non-metric size but only as a special, one-off job which will be more costly.

Mr. Spearing

Is not the difficulty that there is a lack of evidence? In opening this curious debate the Lord President said that we would have to go abroad to buy this machine. My hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Moonman) now says that this is not necessary. Is not this dilemma at the root of the problem?

Mr. English

We have concentrated on the subect for long enough. The point has been made. My hon. Friend the Member for Basildon accused us of being fuddy-duddies, but that is not borne out by the amendment. We are not so fuddy-duddy that we say that we must stick to present size. We say that we do not want Hansard to be the size of a telephone directory. We want something that is small and reasonable. If the present size is awkward, let us change it to a smaller size.

Penguin Books makes £20 million a year producing small, conveniently sized hooks. That company manages to put large numbers of words in its volumes. In the spring lists we are told that the company is about to bring out an enormous paperback book costing £10 per volume.

My hon. Friend the Member for Basildon was very worried about jobs in the industry. He said that if the size of Hansard were larger, there would be fewer pages to put together. Presumably, if the size were smaller, there would be more pages to put together and more jobs in the industry. My hon. Friend seems a little inconsistent. There is an A5 size which is metric and smaller than the present size. The amendment does not prevent the Stationery Office from using that size.

The House does not want a large telephone directory size of Hansard. Many of us have become familiar with the present size. The poor postmen struggle to our doors and endeavour to get through the letter boxes the European Community Journal, which is a ridiculously large size and most inconvenient. It would be better if it were a smaller size. The present Hansard is a convenient size for the postman and for many other people.

What must surely appal everyone is the sheer stubbornness of those who refuse to accept the decisions of the House. This sort of thing does not improve the relations between politicians and civil servants, whether they be administrators or printers. It does not improve the relationship between poli- ticians and civil servants if the House decides, having read its Committee's Report, to disagree with the report, but for the matter repeatedly to be brought back because the decision of the House is unacceptable. It is no good Ministers and others saying that they do not like our decision. That has been the cry of the dictator throughout the ages—"I am sorry, but a Labour or Conservative Government were elected at the last election and we do not like it." There are dictators in some countries who say that they do not like elections, and they stop them. It is fairly clear that that same attitude lies behind this whole affair. It is an irritating, stubborn, undemocratic attitude, and I can say only that I am surprised that my hon. Friend the Minister of State should associated himself with that view.

Mr. Charles R. Morris

My hon. Friend has made this charge on a number of occasions. He says that we have refused to accept what he describes as the democratic decisions of the House about the size of Hansard. I hope that he will put me right. My memory goes back to the first decision of the House which was to refer the matter back to the Services Committee for further consideration. On the last occasion there was not one decision hut, if I remember rightly, two. The first was in favour of an amendment, and the second was to reject the amended motion.

When my hon. Friend says, as a result of that, that individuals are being stubborn and are refusing to accept the democratic decisions of the House, he invites me to reply that one would he prepared to accept the decisions of the House if they were clear. On three previous occasions we had not decision but indecision. I shall be delighted if my hon. Friend can put me right on this if I have it wrong.

Mr. English

I can put my right hon. Friend right on the last point. The amendment was carried and Ministers and others then voted against the motion out of this stubborn attitude which arose because they did not like the fact that it was amended. They are entitled to do that, but they are not then entitled to say that the House was in a state of indecision because it did not do what they wanted it to do.

The stubborn attitude was apparent then, and it is even more apparent now. In the first place the House referred the matter back to the Select Committee. That, I should have thought, was a fair illustration of view and a normal and courteous way of doing these things. We expected the Select Committee to listen to the will of the House and to come back with a report that conformed to it. That did not happen, so on the next occasion an amendment was moved. As an illustration of this stubborn attitude, the motion is back again today.

The majority of us are willing to accept the will of the House, but this stubborn minority is not. The stubborn minority will not accept it because the Stationery Office does not like it. We own the Stationery Office and we employ it. We pay the wages of everyone in it, and they are considerable. It behoves the Stationery Office to do what the House wishes, not to keep coming back and saying "We do not like what you are asking us to do. Will you please change your mind?" That is what seems to have been happening. That is what we all believe.

Mr. Charles R. Morris

I apologise for intervening twice in my hon. Friend's speech. However, I want to make this matter absolutely clear. It is not a question of Her Majesty's Stationery Office refusing to accept the decision of the House. Frankly, I think that the House ought occasionally to recognise the splendid job that the Stationery Office does in printing Hansard. My hon. Friend said that the Stationery Office ought to accept that the House of Commons is a customer. The Stationery Office recognises that fact, but points out that, as we are providing a new building for St. Stephen's Press, if we want to continue with Hansard in its present size, there is an additional price to be paid—£200,000 in capital and £40,000 in annual running costs. It is also a question of jobs and of where we purchase the new machinery—whether in Britain or abroad. These are the facts.

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is a long intervention.

Mr. English

No one suggests that the Stationery Office is not doing its job. We want it to go on doing its job. It is a lovely little job. We like our Hansard and appreciate the Stationery Office's work in producing it. We want it to go on doing just that. If it is technically difficult or impossible to produce Hansard in its present size, let us have it a little smaller—A5 or something like that. We are not fuddy-duddies or reactionaries. We do not want a large telephone directory European Community Journal type book. The Stationery Office could conform to our perfectly reasonable request to keep Hansard as it is, or to make it a little smaller if it wants to use a metric size machine. However, Members do not want this great gawky object which will be a nuisance to carry into the Chamber if they wish to quote from it.

On that basis, it is fair to say to the Stationery Office "We are your owners, your employers. The taxpayer pays most of your wages. Without the taxpayer, you would not have a job at all."

9.38 p.m.

Mr. Robert Cooke (Bristol, West)

I think that it might be helpful if I intervene, I hope briefly, at this time to express the view of the Select Committee, which was unanimous.

I should make it clear that, although I speak from this useful position at the Dispatch Box, on which I can spread out papers and have bound volumes before me, the Opposition are free on this occasion, as on so many others, to vote as they please. This is not a party matter.

It has been said that the Services Committee should serve the House. Certainly that is what it is there to do. The Committee is most reluctant to make changes in services to which the House has long been accustomed in a particular form.

At the same time, the Committee is careful with public money. Every item of domestic expenditure is considered in detail every year. Indeed, the whole of yesterday morning was devoted to the closest scrutiny of a modest list of improvements to the domestic comfort of Members and, predominantly, of the staff who serve us.

When the Stationery Office approached us with a proposal to consider A4—and I give it to my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Finsberg) that it was the Stationery Office which came to us with the proposal, and I shall explain why in a moment—on grounds of increased efficiency and reduced cost, we subjected its representatives to a most stringent cross-examination on two occasions. On the first occasion, the House said that we had not published enough information. On the second occasion, we did our best to provide further information, and my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead has attacked us because we have not produced yet another report. However, we have had the benefit of a speech from the Lord President, and the Minister responsible for the Stationery Office has intervened a number of times in the debate.

I must make it quite clear that the Stationery Office came to us following continuous anxiety—I use that as a diplomatic word—on the part of the Select Committee lest this vital service to the House should break down. I digress for a moment to say that it was not just anxiety on our part. We are perhaps at the centre and understand some of these matters. Many hon. Members had made violent attacks, some of them on the Stationery Office and others on the holders of the office of Lord President in a number of different Governments, because the Stationery Office had failed in its duty to provide the parliamentary papers that we required at the proper times.

I have no wish to join in those attacks. I say simply that we realise that much of the difficulty is caused by out-of-date machinery and the strains imposed on the printers working for the Stationery Office. The hon. Member for Basildon (Mr. Moonman) was passionate in what he said on that subject, and rightly so.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead has served with distinction on the Services Committee. I wish only that he had been with us when we considered this matter, because it is possible, that he might have been a unanimous signatory of this report. My hon. Friend made the very best of a case, as he always does in the House, by bringing in every argument which could be made against the proposal. But I must hand it to him, because he has one personal grouse, and it may apply elsewhere. I happen to know that he has fitted out a beautiful room in his home, at great personal expense which is not allowable for income tax, with shelves to accommodate volumes of Hansard of the present size, and that he is desolated at the prospect of not having enough House of Commons Hansards to fill those shelves.

However, there are at least 20 more volumes coming along, even if we agree to change the size today, and there may be more if the Stationery Office has a bigger backlog than usual. There will also be an index volume. My hon. Friend must also not forget that, if he wants to fill his shelves, he is entitled to free copies of the bound volumes of the House of Lords Hansard and of the statutes.

Mr. Spearing

This has not been mentioned until now, but I understand that the House of Lords Hansard is not printed by HMSO. It is produced by private contract. Is there any liaison with the other place? Will it change its size, or can it maintain the same size with fewer volumes?

Mr. Cooke

I never expected to stand at this Dispatch Box and answer for their Lordships on any matter. However, I can tell the House that, should the Commons go to A4, their Lordships would assent to changing to that form.

As for the bound volumes which my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) got from the Library, he obtained the thickest of the bound specimen volumes available. The Stationery Office produced six copies of this very thick volume. They were made to represent the thickest volume which had ever been produced. The average size would be much the same as the book on field sports which I showed the House on the last occasion on which we debated this matter.

It is perfectly true that the present pale powder blue shiny cover could be changed to matt dark green and, if I may give a personal undertaking, if we have to go on with the present slippery size—the difficult bulky volumes—we could at least change the colour in due course without any increase in the cost.

However, I return to the serious matter in the debate. If we print all our papers at the same size as the present Hansard, the machine saves £360,000 and there is a saving of £87,000 on manpower. If we standardise on the A4 size—this is a figure that my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead did not quote—we save £805,000 on machines and more than £250,000 a year, year by year, on manpower. That figure has not been mentioned even by the Minister.

Mr. Alan Clark (Plymouth, Sutton)

Do I understand that we would be saving on manpower if we used the larger size? Surely the argument of the hon. Member for Basildon (Mr. Moonman) and others is that it is in the interest of maintaining a full work force that we should proceed to this large European Community-size metric document. Is my hon. Friend saying that if we have the small or current standard size HMSO will be employing more people in producing this document?

Mr. Cooke

The exact numbers employed are a matter for the Stationery Office and the Minister directly responsible. All I can say is that, if my hon. Friend carried on with his argument, the logical conclusion would be to have Hansard in A5—something even smaller—employing enormous numbers of people stapling it all together. The great thing about going to A4, as the only hon. Member in the printing industry who has spoken, the hon. Member for Basildon, said, is that we would save 17,000 pages a year, or 27 per cent. of total production. That significantly fewer number of sheets to handle must produce a quicker service.

We must give our printers the proper tools of the trade if they are to survive. I say to those hon. Members who did not like what the hon. Member for Basildon said that he brought them up sharp and faced them with the facts of life, and of course it is not nice to face the facts of life if they are inconvenient or perhaps difficult to absorb.

It is traditional that we spend quite a long time chewing over at great length our domestic affairs on the rare occasions when the Government can find time for such debates.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

Does not my hon. Friend agree that, sharp though the point of view of the hon. Member for Basildon (Mr. Monoman) was in his evidence, the only correct body to give evidence to the House is the Select Committee, and that it has singularly failed to do?

Mr. Cooke

In a way, my hon. Friend gives me my point. If we did not do our job well enough, he has had opportunity to drag the Minister to his feet on several occasions. If my hon. Friend did not like the report, he could have argued against it on a number of occasions. He is not now a member of the Select Committee, so perhaps we are not as efficient as we were. The fact is that my hon. Friend had a long go tonight, but made no new points.

The most significant and serious point to come out of the debate was made by the hon. Member for Basildon, who, I imagine, speaks for the unions that he has been consulting. He said that there were agreed manning scales by the unions for the A4 size, so that if we decide here and now we can reap quite enormous benefits. I do not want to keep the House from those for a moment longer.

Mr. Leslie Spriggs (St. Helens)

My hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Moonman) has corrected the statement of the Leader of the House that to replace the present size of the press would mean purchasing the machinery outside Britain. My hon. Friend said that such a machine could be purchased in Britain as one off the ordinary line. In view of that, will the hon. Gentleman now correct my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, because this issue is what the vote hangs on tonight?

Mr. Cooke

That is not quite correct, but I do not think that the hon. Member had the benefit of hearing the whole of the earlier debate. Even if we could find a machine in this country to produce the present size of Hansard, it would have been put together with hits and pieces from all over the place. That would result in enormous trouble in the years to come. The easiest way to get a machine to print the present size of Hansard would be to go abroad for a purpose-built model, and I am sure that the House would wish to avoid that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury has returned time and again to the business of reading Hansard in bed. Now we know that he does it morning and evening. It would be indelicate perhaps to ask what he does at weekends. Perhaps he reads the Hansard of the other House. I think he is determined—he is a very determined man in many ways—to get himself into the newspapers tomorrow. [Interruption.] I am saying this in the most friendly way to him, as I am sure he knows. We serve together on the Works of Art Committee. I feel that he would like to see himself in a cartoon in the newspapers as the hon. Member who reads Hansard in bed. The Committee would no doubt hang it on the wall in due course.

My hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) would, of course, no longer be able to use copies of Hansard as shinguards. On the football field he would have to use a Select Committee report and on the cricket field he could use Dod's Parliamentary Companion for some other protective purpose.

Let us get to the end of this matter. Let us come to a decision. The House has failed to do so on previous occasions. Members can interpret previous decisions one way or another. Time is not on our side. We lost a year last time. Let us not lose another year. Let us decide the matter here and now and leave it in no doubt, and then the Government must accept the decision of the House.

9.53 p.m.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham South)

I am somewhat bewildered by the debate, because all this hangs on a simple point of order of 18th January. I feel somewhat let down, for this reason: when we passed the motion on 15th March asking for more information, that meant that the Services Committee simply produced its evidence which had not originally been published. That motion was passed by a fairly big majority—175 to 83.

Then on 5th May we had the curious debate when the House decided that it wanted the amendment which was in my name, although some hon. Members voted the other way for reasons that we can understand. Now we have the debate again. But from that day, 5th May, when my amendment was successful, until today no further information has been sent to me. I have had no indication other than the Order Paper telling me that the debate was to take place—apart from some information from an informal source a week ago that the Government were putting it down again because the machinery could not be obtained in Britain. There has been no further information.

The information that we have had tonight from the speech of the Lord Presi- dent, at the opening of the debate, has provided us with a great deal of new material. We have also had a very important speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Moonman). But it is in a sense hearsay. I do not doubt the good will and, indeed, the veracity of those hon. Members who have spoken, but it was new to the debate.

Mr. Philip Holland (Carlton)

Does the hon. Gentleman in his own mind feel clear that the new machinery can be purchased in this country or that it has to be purchased in Germany?

Mr. Spearing

I understand that it could be purchased in this country but that it would be a hybrid machine of doubtful quality and difficult to maintain, otherwise it would have to be purchased abroad. But the point I am making is that we have got ourselves into a terrible procedural and technical mess. I am not sure whether the House ought to decide this matter now in the absence of information that has not been made available. That is the root of this matter. If the Services Committee found that indeed there was a change from the situation on 5th May—that is what it is saying—surely it ought to present another report to the House telling us in detail what that change is. The reference to the purchase of china is irrelevant. The point was that the china cups could have been made in this country. Therefore, that analogy is not correct.

Let us suppose that we pass this motion tonight and purchase material from abroad. How are we to know that a printer will not come along and say, "I could have done it."? There has been no evidence about what inquiries the Services Committee has made. This has been going on for six months, yet we have heard only tonight that there is a complete change in the factors in the decision. Is that good enough for the House of Commons?

This series of debates has shown the House up not very well. The basis of the problem has been lack of information. I raised the point of order at the start of it all only because someone was trying to get the motion through on the nod [HON. MEMBERS:"NO."] Oh, yes. It is clear from Hansard of 18th January that there was an attempt to get the matter through on the nod.

The unsatisfactory thing is that we are having this latest debate—seven months after the previous one—and the Services Committee has not provided one single piece of further evidence. That puts me in a very difficult position. When I saw on the Order Paper that this matter was being raised again, I not unreasonably put down the amendment which had been successful on the previous occasion. But I was never informed either by the Services Committee or by the Leader of the House that new factors had arisen, in which case I might have thought twice about putting down the amendment.

The House is being rushed into taking another decision without being supplied with that information. I do not think that the House should take this sort of decision without having another report from the Services Committee. It might even be a brief report. Incidentally, if it has taken the Services Committee seven months to come up with this information, why did it not get to work sooner?

This may not be an important issue in comparison with the big issues that we have discussed today. There are many major issues which ought to be decided, and I am not claiming that the time of the House is well spent on this matter. But I would claim that if the House of Commons is to decide on great matters of State, matters of economic policy, taxation and so on, the information available to Members for those debates should be present.

If we are bounced into a decision in the first instance and bounced into another decision tonight—and if the way in which the authorities conduct our debates is by not providing the information—how can we be sure that we shall get the right sort of information on other matters? Before we take a decision, I hope that the Chairman of the Services Committee will suggest that we should be given the facts rather than the conflicting evidence that we have been given tonight.

The question of Hansard and its size may well be a moral tale about the way in which the House conducts its pocedures and the way in which we are able, or not able, to come to decisions. Because of the lack of information, I do not think that we should come to a decision tonight. I hope that the Chairman of the Services Committee will apologise to the House for not having given the information that it ought to have had before being asked to deal with this matter. I hope that that is what the hon. Gentleman will do. However, it does not look as though he intends to do so—

Mr. Walter Harrison (Treasurer of Her Majesty's Household)

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 105, Noes 58.

Division No. 83] AYES [10.00 p.m.
Armstrong, Ernest Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) McElhone, Frank
Atkinson, Norman Ewing, Harry (Stirling) MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Bain, Mrs Margaret Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Madden, Max
Bales, Alf Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Mahon, Simon
Beith, A. J. Fookes, Miss Janet Mallalieu, J. P. W.
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Foot, Rt Hon Michael Marks, Kenneth
Benyon, W. Ford, Ben Mellish, Rt Hon Robert
Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Freud, Clement Morris, Rt Hon Charles R.
Bray, Dr Jeremy Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) George, Bruce Neubert, Michael
Buchan, Norman Golding, John Noble, Mike
Buchanan, Richard Gourlay, Harry Ogden, Eric
Buchan-Smith, Alick Graham, Ted Pardoe, John
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Grant, George (Morpeth) Penhaligon, David
Carmichael, Neil Grant, John (Islington C) Price, William (Rugby)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Clemitson, Ivor Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Radice, Giles
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Rees-Davies, W. R.
Cohen, Stanley Healey, Rt Hon Denis Richardson, Miss Jo
Conlan, Bernard Hunter, Adam Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) John, Brynmor Rodgers, Rt Ton William (Stockton)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Jones, Barry (East Flint) Roper, John
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Le Marchant, Spencer Sandelson, Neville
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Sever, John
Dormand, J. D. Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Dunnett, Jack Loyden, Eddie Sims, Roger
Eadle, Alex Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Spicer, Michael (S Worcester) Wainwright, Richard (Colne V) Woof, Robert
Stallard, A. W. Ward, Michael Wrigglesworth, Ian
Steel, Rt Hon David Watkins, David Young, David (Bolton E)
Strang, Gavin Whitehead, Phillip
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W) Willey, Rt Hon Frederick TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Thorne, Stan (Preston South) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W) Mr. Joseph Harper and
Tierney, Sydney Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch) Mr. Donald Coleman.
Tinn, James
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Langford Holt, Sir John St John-Stevas, Norman
Body, Richard Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Lawrence, Ivan Shepherd, Colin
Brotherton, Michael McCusker, H. Shersby, Michael
Carlisle, Mark MacGregor, John Skinner, Dennis
Carson, John Mather, Carol Spearing, Nigel
Cockroft, John Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Spriggs, Leslie
Crouch, David Maynard, Miss Joan Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Dunlop, John Mendelson, John Stradling Thomas, J.
Durant, Tony Mills, Peter Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Emery, Peter Moate, Roger Vaughan, Dr Gerald
Fairbairn, Nicholas Molyneaux, James Wakeham, John
Finsberg, Geoffrey Monro, Hector Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Glyn, Dr Alan Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral Whitlock, William
Grist, Ian Paisley, Rev Ian Winterton, Nicholas
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Rhodes, James R.
Holland, Philip Roberts, Wyn (Conway) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Robinson, Geoffrey Mr. Alan Clark and
Hunt, David (Wirral) Rooker, J. W. Mr. Michael English.
Kinnock, Neil Rose, Paul B.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the amendment be made:—

Division No. 84] AYES [10.10 p.m.
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Hunt, David (Wirral) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Bain, Mrs Margaret Kinnock, Neil St John-Stevas, Norman
Beith, A. J. Langford-Holt, Sir John Shelton, William(Streatham)
Body, Richard Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Shepherd, Colin
Boscawen, Hon Robert Lawrence, Ivan Shersby, Michael
Brotherton, Michael Loyden, Eddie Skinner, Dennis
Canavan, Dennis McCusker, H. Spearing, Nigel
Carlisle, Mark MacGregor, John Spriggs, Leslie
Carson, Jack McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Cormack, Patrick Mather, Carol Stradling Thomas, J.
Crouch, David Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Mendelson, John Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Dunlop, John Moate, Roger Vaughan, Dr Gerald
Durant, Tony Molloy, William Wakeham, John
Emery, Peter Molyneaux, James Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Fairbairn, Nicholas Monro, Hector Ward, Michael
Finsberg, Geoffrey Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral Whitlock, William
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Winterton, Nicholas
Glyn, Dr Alan Paisley, Rev Ian Wise, Mrs Audrey
Grist, Ian Penhaligon, David
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Rees-Davies, W. R. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Robinson, Geoffrey Mr. Michael English and
Holland, Philip Rooker, J. W. Mr. Alan Clark.
Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Rose, Paul B.
Armstrong, Ernest Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Atkinson, Norman Dormand, J. D. Henderson, Douglas
Bates, Alf Dunnett, Jack Hunter, Adam
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Eadie, Alex John, Brynmor
Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Kerr, Russell
Brown, Hugh D (Provan) Fetcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Le Merchant, Spencer
Buchan, Norman Fookes, Miss Janet Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Buchanan, Richard Foot, Rt Hon Michael Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Ford, Ben McElhone, Frank
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Carmichael, Neil Freud, Clement Madden, Max
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) George, Bruce Mahon, Simon
Clemitson, Ivor Golding, John Mallalieu, J. P. W.
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Graham, Ted Marks, Kenneth
Cohen, Stanley Grant, George (Morpeth) Maynard, Miss Joan
Conlan, Bernard Grant, John (Islington C) Mellish, Rt Hon Robert
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Grist, Ian Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Moonman, Eric
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) More, Jasper (Ludlow)

The House divided: Ayes 67, Noes96.

Morris, Rt Hon Charles R. Roper, John Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Sandelson Neville Watkins, David
Neubert, Michael Sever, John Whitehead, Phillip
Noble, Mike Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Ogden, Eric Sims, Roger Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Price, William (Rugby) Smith, John (N Lanarkshire) Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Spicer, Michael (S Worcester) Woof, Robert
Radice, Giles Stallard, A. W. Wrigglesworth, Ian
Rhodes, James R Steel, Rt Hon David
Richardson, Miss Jo Strang, Gavin TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W) Mr. Joseph Harper and
Rodgers, George (Chorley) Tinn, James Mr. Donald Coleman.
Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put:

Question accordingly agreed to.

The House divided: Ayes 92, Noes 63.

Resolved, That this House doth agree with the Select Committee on House of Commons (Services) in their Fourth Report in the last Session of Parliament relating to the size of Hansard.