§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, If Her Majesty's Government will consider whether economy in printing and a saving of time might not be effected by omitting or condensing more formal Correspondence and technical details in Blue Books presented to the House; and, whether it would be possible to give only the Despatches and information material to the question connected by a brief narrative, instead of printing the whole of the Correspondence and enclosures, when the greater part is of such a character that hon. Members never read it, yet are obliged laboriously to sift the material from the immaterial parts?
§ THE FIRST LORD (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
The hon. Member's anxiety to economize Votes of public money and the time of Members of this House has my entire sympathy. Beyond that I am sorry I am unable to go, and I cannot agree with the way in which he proposes to effect the object he has in view. To what Department would the hon. Member propose to intrust the work of making a précis of a Correspondence ordered to be laid before this House? If to the Department which is a party to the Correspondence, it requires no great gift of prophecy to state what would occur. The Government would be charged with having caused the facts of the case to be garbled or distorted; in self-defence the whole Correspondence would then be produced, and the country would be called on to pay not only for the précis, but also for the Correspondence. Under these circumstances, I see no way of relieving Members who are interested in any par- 762 ticular subject from the trouble of reading the whole Correspondence.