HL Deb 05 November 1974 vol 354 cc273-7

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 Her Majesty's Government to list those Acts of Parliament which have not yet been printed and to list Government White Papers which were published since Parliament adjourned in July.


My Lords, all Acts of Parliament have now been printed. Sixteen House of Commons Papers and 29 Command Papers were published between the adjournment and dissolution of the House. With the leave of the House, I will list the latter in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following are the details referred to:

House of Commons Papers

HC252 Scottish Hospital Endowments Research Trust Annual Report and Accounts 1972–73.

HC277 Supply Estimates 1974–75. Supplementary Estimates (Classes II-XVII: Civil).

HCl87 Greenwich Hospital and Travers Fondation Accounts 1972–73.

HC239 Price Commission, The Fresh Food Reference. 2nd Report. The Marketing of Eggs.

HC300 Annual Report of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Explosives for the year ended 31st December, 1973.

HC336 British Film Fund Agency—16th Annual Report and Statement of Accounts for the 52 weeks ended 29th September, 1973.

HC225 Scottish Law Commission—Report on Presumption of Death.

HC340 Post Office Users' Council for Northern Ireland. Report for Accounting year ended 31st March, 1974.

HC341 Post Officer Users' Council for Scotland. Report for Accounting Year ended 31st March, 1974.

HC342 Post Office Users' Council for Wales and Monmouthshire. Report for Accounting Year ended 31st March, 1974.

HC345 The Monopolies and Mergers Commission: Charter Consolidated Investments Limited and Sadia Limited. A Report on the Proposed Merger.

HC278 Parole Board for Scotland. Report for 1973.

HC287 Atomic Energy Authority Act 1954. Accounts 1973–74.

HC288 Civil Aviation Authority. Accounts 1973–74.

HC276 Social Security Provision for Chronically Sick and Disabled People.

HC339 Industry Act 1972. Annual Report for the year ended 31st March, 1974.

Command Papers

Cmnd 5703 Nuclear Installations Inspectorate Report by the Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations of the Incident in Building B204 at the Windscale Works of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd.

Cmnd 5705 Capital Transfer Tax.

Cmnd 5704 Wealth Tax.

Cmnd 5676 Offences of Drunkenness, 1973 England and Wales.

Cmnd 5706 The Occupational Pension Schemes (Preservation of Benefit) Amendment Regulations 1974 (S.I. 1974 No. 1324).

Cmnd 5710 The Regeneration of British Industry.

Cmnd 5646 The Scottish Land Court. Report as to Proceedings 1973.

Cmnd 5711 Select Committee on Science and Technology. Government Observations on the Third Report. Session 1972–73. Tracked Hovercraft Ltd.

Cmnd 5707 Statistics of Persons Acquiring Citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies 1973.

Cmnd 5709 The Law Commission. Report on Injuries to Unborn Children.

Cmnd 5720 Educational Disadvantage and the Educational Needs of Immigrants. Observations on the Report on Education of the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration.

Cmnd 5702 Roads in Scotland. Report for 1973.

Cmnd 5714 Statement on the Report of the Defence Lands Committee 1971–3.

Cmnd 5732 Democracy and Devolution Proposals for Scotland and Wales.

Cmnd. 5715 Statement of Change in Immigration Rules for Control on Entry. Commonwealth Citizens.

Cmnd 5716 Statement of Change in Immigrations Rules for Control after Entry. Commonwealth Citizens.

Cmnd 5717 Statement of Change. Immigration Rules for Control on Entry. EEC and other Non-Commonwealth Nationals.

Cmnd 5718 Statement of Change in Immigration Rules for Control after Entry. EEC and other Non-Commonwealth Nationals.

Cmnd 5723 Pay Board, 6th Report. 1 June, 1974–30 June, 1974.

Cmnd 5722 National Freight Corporation The Government's reply to the 2nd Report from the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries.

Cmnd 5672 Judicial Statistics 1973 (Scotland).

Cmnd 5725 National Film Finance Corporation—Annual Report and Statement of Accounts for the year ended March 31, 1974.

Cmnd 5721 Broadcasting. Copy of Supplemental Royal Charter relating to the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Cmnd 5724 Equality for Women.

Cmnd 5726 National Consumers' Agency.

Cmnd 5713 Better Pensions.

Cmnd 5729 Review Body on Armed Forces Pay. Pay of Service Medical and Dental Officers. Supplement to Third Report 1974.

Cmnd 5727 War on Waste. A Policy for Reclamation.

Cmnd 5730 Land.


My Lords, is the noble Lord the Leader of the House aware that when we reassembled last week there were still six Acts of Parliament not available in the Printed Paper Office? This morning the Housing Act 1974 was still not available. Would it not have been better, and more orderly administration, if priority had been given to the printing of Acts of Parliament which could affect the citizens of our country and the administration of justice, rather than publishing larger numbers of White Papers which were clearly put out in order to affect votes?


My Lords, I will look into the question of the unavailability and availability of those Acts. My understanding was that the Housing Act was printed on October 25. Regarding the latter part of the noble Lord's supplementary question, White Papers have traditionally over many years often been printed by outside contractors, whereas since 1920 Acts of Parliament have been printed by the St. Stephen's Press. If Acts of Parliament had been printed by outside contractors during the industrial dispute that we had last July, I fear that the consequences would have been very grave for all the printing throughout the Government service.


My Lords, in view of that answer I do not understand what has happened. According to the noble Lord the Leader of the House a document such as the one I have in my hand, the National Consumers Agency, is printed by outside printers. But this was printed in September by Her Majesty's, Stationery Office. Would it have been more proper for Her Majesty's Stationery Office to print Acts of Parliament rather than this type of document?


All Government papers are distributed by Her Majesty's Stationery Office. Where they are printed is a different question. Some two-thirds of the printing material of the Government service is printed by outside contractors.


My Lords, can the noble Lord tell the House whether the Minutes of Evidence given before Select Committees in this House have now all been printed and are available?—for example, the Minutes of the E.E.C. Scrutiny Committee which sat in advance of last Thursday's debate.


My Lords, I suspected that the noble Earl would bowl a fast ball! I do not have that information. My understanding is there are only two Parliamentary Papers still outstanding, two House of Commons Hansards, which I believe are to be printed in the course of the next ten days. In regard to the point which the noble Earl made, I will look at it and write to him.


My Lords, is it not a disgrace that an unconstitutional strike should damage the national interest to the extent that Acts of Parliament cannot be printed for months? Should not the Government have had them printed elsewhere?


My Lords, I have already explained the difficulties that were experienced and the steps that were taken about them. The dispute has, I hope, now ended and a settlement reached. I hope that the noble Earl will consider his words in future, in the light of what we hope to see as a continuation of the long and happy service that Her Majesty's Stationery Office and the printers have given to the two Houses of Parliament.


My Lords, will the noble Lord ensure that exactly the same thing does not happen next year as happened this year and the year before?


My Lords, if I could rest assured that the noble Lord would respond to the approach I have made, then I should be more confident in answering his question.


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that if he were to follow up the suggestion in the supplementary question from the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, then the Government would be seeking to heap more coals of fire upon their heads?


My Lords, if my noble friend would see the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, and seek to explain to him the facts of commercial and trade union life, I should be most grateful.


My Lords, now that this industrial dispute is settled and therefore there is less feeling, would not the noble Lord the Leader of the House consider through the usual channels whether we ought to look at this matter to find out whether we have the best possible method of publishing Acts of Parliament? It may be that we ought to look at it, because it does not seem to be sensible that Acts of Parliament apply of which no legal person and no citizens can obtain copies, although they are all under the behest of Acts. Could we not perhaps administer our affairs in this respect rather better than we do at present?


My Lords, I fully appreciate the difficulties that must have been experienced by the fact that Acts came into being but were not immediately available to those who might wish to see them. I am always willing to discuss any matter through the usual channels, but I ought to say at this stage that we are hoping to achieve a settlement and a basis for future negotiations with those concerned which will avoid the difficulties that we experienced in July.

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