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Low-Priced Books

Volume 644: debated on Monday 10 July 1961

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asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether the consortium of publishers assisting him with his scheme of low-priced books for overseas is considering the establishment of warehouse facilities overseas for the more effective distribution of these books; and what assistance from public funds is involved.

I understand that the consortium is considering various aspects of book distribution overseas, but has not yet reached conclusions.

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to the latest figures of the flood of English language books from Communist countries into Africa and parts of Asia? Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise the urgent need for much better progress than he and his advisers among the publishers seem to be achieving? Is he aware that there would be considerable support for the kind of proposal contained in my Question? Is he further aware that we should like a great deal more information about what he is doing about this.

The hon. Member's Question relates to the consortium and I am answering it in that sense. I am aware of the figures he has referred to, but there is now steady progress after a slow start, which was due to the emphasis on text-books, and this progress is being maintained.

I gave the figures for the volumes printed a fortnight ago in answer to the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Thomson). The figures of those sold are coming in all the time, but I can tell the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) that some of the textbooks have been quite sold out and second printings are now being arranged.


asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will now consider extending the list of low-priced university text-books and making them available in a larger number of countries.

I cannot yet add to my replies to the hon. Member last week. The Advisory Committee is examining many further titles, and we hope to extend supplies to further countries.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the universities text-book scheme for India has been an outstanding success? Is he also aware that there are demands for these books in East Africa? Will he do his best to ensure that this spreads to other parts of the world?

I am glad to hear what the hon. Gentleman said about the success in India. That is primarily due to the fact that the Indian university authorities gave great help in the selection of textbooks. Other universities have other ideas, but with the increase in the number of text-books coming under this scheme we shall have an opportunity in other universities in other countries.