§ 1. Mr. G. M. Thomson
asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what arrangements have been made for a consortium of publishers to assist him in the publishing and distribution arrangements in connection with his scheme of cheap books for overseas.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Dr. Charles Hill)
An export consortium has been formed by a number of publishers with special interest or experience in exporting books. It has begun to operate and is already giving valuable advice, particularly about marketing arrangements, in connection with the low-price book scheme. I am very grateful to the members of this consortium for their help.
§ Mr. Thomson
Would the right hon. Gentleman be kind enough to publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT the names of the members of this consortium, and could he reassure the House that the members are not of such high level in the publishing world individually that they will find it difficult to hold frequent enough meetings to get the action now needed?
§ 2. Mr. G. M. Thomson
asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress is being made with Her Majesty's Government's scheme for cheap books for overseas, apart from the arrangements for cheap editions of university text books; how many titles have been selected; and how many books it is expected to distribute during the coming year.
§ Dr. Hill
To date, the Advisory Committee has recommended 30 titles for production in low-priced editions, and negotiations are proceeding with the publishers. This is in addition to the 23 textbooks now in course of printing and despatch. It is rather too early to forecast the number of books to be produced this year, which must depend on the course of the negotiations with the publishers.
§ Mr. Thomson
But does not the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster think it is a little strange that he should now cautiously say that it is too early to forecast the number of books being produced when last year he forecast that he would have 2 million copies produced by the end of the year? Does not his Answer, and his Answer to the previous Question, give some indication of the kind of handicaps that a country like Britain appears to face in trying to compete with the Communist world in providing cheap books?
§ Dr. Hill
The hon. Member will recall that it was decided to put the emphasis in the first place on textbooks—I announced that to this House—and that does affect the numbers concerned. In general, I should like to tell the hon. 4 Gentleman that after a slow start, when many problems had to be resolved, the scheme is now well under way, and we should from now on see a steep increase in the number of books.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House whether arrangements are being made with certain countries that ban the entry of Britsh books? Some very good and enlightened books are banned by the British Commonwealth countries. What is the good of trying to export books to those countries if they are to be banned when they get there?