Orders of the Day — House of Commons (Administration) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th April 1978.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton 12:00 am, 12th April 1978

That is right. I have a long way to go, but I have the years in which to do it. But the one service that I require from the House is the printing of my papers on a daily basis. There are the complications of working in bad offices without our secretaries next door to us; but when we do not have properly printed papers our task in operating as efficient Members of Parliament is made three times more difficult by that than by any other single aspect that I can think of. I see Members nodding assent to the point I am making.

But I want to ask this question. Would it be possible under the Bill for the new Commission to decide to ask one of the Departments to set up a printing structure under that Department for the provision of papers in the House for Members of Parliament? I sub-divide that question and ask that better emergency arrangements be made for printing so that when the present arrangements break down we have better stand by facilities than at present.

I am not immediately attempting to be massively critical of the present standby facilities. I think that the staff are remarkable in the way that they obtain and collate papers at a moment's notice on their reproduction machinery on one of the lower floors in order to keep going the rather inadequate flow of papers that we have at the moment. Therefore, my direct question is whether there is the possibility under the Bill that the Commission could consider this matter and, because it is so important in the administration of the whole House, decide to take new and positive action to enable us, the Commission and the House of Commons, to control and deal with our own printing. I should like a direct answer to that question because it seems to go further than any of the other questions raised.

Other than that, in principle it seems to me that the Bill is sound, and goes a long way towards doing what we want. It provides the types of control that Members want. We hope that those who will give their time to serving on the Commission will do so over a number of Parliaments, so that their experience can go from one Parliament to the other. I welcome the Bill in general, but for the specific question which I ask the Minister to deal with when he replies.