HC Deb 28 November 1946 vol 430 cc342-3W
100. Mr. T. Brown

asked the Minister of Education what steps are being taken by her Department to improve the meagre supply of text books to our elementary and secondary schools, which are far below the normal supply required.

Mr. Hardman

I am in constant touch with my colleagues on this problem, which causes me considerable concern. I am glad to say that there has been a marked improvement in the supply of paper, publishers' regular quotas having been increased in the last 18 months from 42½ per cent. to 80 per cent. of prewar usage. From this supply publishers are of course, free to produce what books they choose, but in addition it is open to any publisher who cannot bring out an important text book merely from lack of paper to apply to the Board of Trade for an allocation from the special reserve established for such purposes. This reserve was substantially increased in July last but owing to the time lag between the licensing of paper and the publication of the books, the full effect of the increase has not yet been felt. Unfortunately accumulated arrears owing to wartime depletion of stocks remain to be overcome and further increase of production depends also on other factors such as the supply of labour, which I understand is still 24 per cent. short of prewar strength.