My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask the Leader of the House whether he will arrange for the Official Report of the business of the House of Lords for 26th February 1975, now out of print, to be reprinted.
My Lords, there is insufficient demand to justify the expense of reprinting this Daily Part of the Official Report. The weekly edition and the bound volume covering this period are both still in print.
My Lords, will the noble Lord look at this matter again, because although this is an exceptional request, this is also a report of a very exceptional debate—the debate on subversion and extremist elements in this country, which was introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont? Bearing in mind the times in which we live, does the noble Lord not think that it is important that as many people as possible should be familiar with all this information? The noble Lord can see the interest which there was in this debate as revealed by the fact that the original edition was so soon sold out.
My Lords, I sympathise with the noble Lord who is my neighbour. I agree with him that the debate itself was important, and I have read it. It concerns a very important subject. But in the circumstances, in view of the fact that there are bound copies of the weekly Hansard, and in view of cost and other matters, I think it is right to stick to the existing position. But bearing in mind the eloquence of the noble Lord of course I will look at this matter.
My Lords, I should like to ask the noble Lord the Leader of the House whether it would not be possible to have typed copies of this debate, as has been done on earlier occasions when there have not been printed copies?
But, my Lords, there are copies in the Library and there is the bound copy. There is also the weekly Hansard. Noble Lords could easily have that photostated.
My Lords, this is not for us to look at. The reprinting is requested so that this report can be circulated all around the country to those who are in need of a certain amount of information if they are really going to get rid of Marxism.
My Lords, I do not think that that debate will get rid of Marxism. But whatever the arguments about that, I hope that the views contained in that Hansard will be widely publicised. I accept that. For that reason I will have a talk with the noble Lord afterwards.
My Lords, can the noble Lord say how many copies were originally printed?
My Lords, 4,350 copies of Part 53 and 4,700 copies of Part 54 were printed—quite a considerable quantity.
My Lords, if the noble Lord is not prepared to have another run on this, would he authorise the waiving of the copyright on it?
I do not think that I have powers to do that, my Lords.
My Lords, is my noble friend aware that many of us think that this would be an unnecessary expenditure at a time when we are supposed to be economising?
My Lords, I agree that £322 is a considerable amount of money, even though it may seem small. One has to be cautious about this from a Parliamentary point of view.
My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that since the original edition was exhausted so quickly—and this was not just through Members getting free copies—he might recover a very large part of the £300-odd if he were really brave and had this report re-published?
My Lords, I know that the noble Lord has responded to what I have suggested. Let us have a discussion about it.