asked the hon. Member for the Pollok Division of Glasgow, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, whether he can make any statement as to the effect of the increased prices for all official publications: whether there is any intention of making a profit on these documents of public interest; and why it is necessary to charge 6d. for a copy of a Parliamentary Bill, thus reducing the demand by which expenses can be met?
The new scale of charges for Parliamentary publications was only adopted in the autumn of last year, and it is not possible, therefore, to form a final judgment as to the effect on sales and revenue of the increase in prices. The general tendency, despite reduction in numbers sold, is to show a greatly increased revenue from sales. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative; the selling price is never fixed above cost of production. With regard to the last part of the question, it is not the case that a flat rate of 6d. is now being charged for all Parliamentary Bills. The prices of Bills are fixed according to a scale based on cost of production, and, therefore, vary roughly according to the number of pages. The average for the first 97 Bills of the Session was about 4d. Although there has been some falling off in sales of copies of Bills, the revenue shows a substantial increase, as is the case in regard to Government publications generally.
Is it the case that the cost of production has increased four times within the last few years—that paper which cost 3s. two years ago cost 6s. last year and 12s. this year?
The hon. Baronet should put that question down.