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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 3 Jun 1925

Vol. 12 No. 2


I move:—

Go ndeontar suim ná ragaidh thar £110,385 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1926, chun Páipeárachais, Clódóireachta, Páipéir, Greamuíochta agus Leabhra Clóbhuailte i gcóir na Seirbhíse Puiblí, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig an tSoláthair agus chun ilsheirbhísí ilghnéitheacha mar aon le Tuaraiscí Díospóireachtaí an Oireachtais.

That a sum not exceeding £110,385 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1926, for Stationery, Printing, Paper, Binding, and Printed Books for the Public Service; for the Salaries and Expenses of the Stationery Office; and for sundry Miscellaneous Services, including Reports of the Oireachtas Debates.

This Vote shows a net decrease of a substantial sum in spite of the fact that the actual demands upon the Department have been increasing. All the legislative activity of the Dáil has resulted in an increased charge being thrown upon this Vote. It is satisfactory that as a result of close scrutiny on the demands of the Departments and of the work of the contractor and efforts made to secure tenders from a wider circle than previously tendered, it has been possible to reduce it in a substantial way. Of course it is not within the control of the Stationery Office to regulate the amount of money required by it more or less except in a minor degree. It is the demand of the various Departments, the number of sittings, and the amount of legislation turned out, by the Oireachtas that really determines that.

There is a reduction in the sub-head dealing with salaries, wages and allowances. That has been effected by reorganisation of the office and by the letting go of certain members of the staff whom it was found possible to do without. There were changes in the number of warehousemen. The changes were not very considerable but they resulted in the reduction of the staff necessary to carry on the work of the Department.

The reduction in sub-head (b) was due partly to the use of a motor van which was obtained for the carrying of goods through the city and to general care in dealing with supplies and the transport of supplies. In incidental expenses one of the items that disappeared was an item for removals. The Department is now permanently housed. For a time it was in various buildings which were unsatisfactory. No figures for removals are now required. The item under sub-head (b) follows the experience of last year, and is somewhat less. There was an increase in the printing of the Iris Oifigiúil. That was due to lists being printed for Land Commission work and work in connection with the Damage to Property Act, which required larger issues. The expenses of the printing of the register are down because in years other than the first year of the five years period, the entire matter has not to be set up. There are only certain of the lists, claims and objections and alterations to be set up. It means in those years that the costs are considerably less. Printing contracts, as indicated already, have been sub-divided to attract wider competition. Smaller printing houses have been enabled to quote for groups of contracts in a way they could not do in the past.

The prices show an all-round deduction of fifteen to twenty per cent. The face value of the official publications in revenue forms, etc., sold last year, amounted to £5,500. In the case of certain publications which one might think the public interested in, the sale has been exceedingly small. For instance, the Estimates of the year 1924-25 were sold at a price of five shillings, which was less than the price which would be dictated if we were basing it entirely on the printing costs divided by the number of copies printed. If that were done, the price would be something like seven shillings. Inasmuch as the volume of Estimates was sold at five shillings, the price of the volume is not very high. An argument might be advanced for making it less, but it seems that you cannot, by any reduction, secure a very wide purchase of it by the public. Even at this price of five shillings, only forty-seven copies were sold. That is only £10 worth of Estimates were bought. That would include a certain number of special people who would buy them in any circumstances. As to the Appropriation Accounts, with the Comptroller and Auditor-General's Report, this year's copy was published at 3/6. It also was below the cost which would be fixed if we were reckoning only the expenses of printing. Only sixteen copies of that were sold. The Public Accounts Committee's Report, which was published not very long ago, was sold at 7/6. If the price had been fixed according to the expenses of printing, it would have been 14/-. Eleven copies of that were sold. It seems to me that demand is so slow that it is not likely that there would be very many sales, even if the prices were brought down. I appreciate the view that is held that it would be worth while losing a few pounds that might otherwise be gained by sales for the purpose of having a more substantial number of the public getting those reports and examining them. They seem, however, to be the sort of things that anybody will not accept who is not specialising or who does not want them for a particular reason. They do not seem the sort of documents that there is any public to study.

During the past year there has been a considerable extension of the system now in operation in Great Britain and other countries of obtaining advertisements for certain publications, forms and envelopes used. A revenue of over £3,000 was got from such advertising during the past year. It is expected that in the coming year a still greater revenue will be got. Arrangements are being made in the Stationery Office for the reproduction by other means than printing of certain reports of which a very small number are required, and some of the printing costs of certain classes of matter are expected to be eliminated.

Sub-head (j) is down largely owing to the fall in the cost of paper. During 1924-25, the price of paper has fallen, and the fall is reflected in the Estimate. With the closing down of the Clondalkin Mills, there is only one paper mill in operation in the Saorstát. Generally, the type of paper turned out at that mill is too expensive for Stationery Office use, and support cannot be given to the industry that might be given if a different and cheaper type of paper were turned out, though in certain cases where paper of the kind produced by this mill is wanted, it is got from it. About £1,700 worth of paper was purchased from the Saggart Mills during the year. Deputies will note that the system is that the Stationery Office stocks paper and has contracts with printing firms, for which it supplies the paper. In view of the fact that there are very many contractors and that different classes of paper are wanted for different orders, it has been found cheaper for the Stationery Office to purchase the paper and supply the printer, rather than to have the printer, perhaps, stocking paper specially for the Stationery Office and charging for it.

In regard to the question of Irish manufacture, a number of articles, such as inks, boxes of various sizes, typewriting tables, various stamps, leather bags and pouches, and articles of that sort, are of Irish manufacture. A certain saving has been accomplished by the setting up of a repair shop in the Stationery Office for dealing with typewriters which need attention. Previously that work was sent out. It has been found more economical to do it in the Stationery Office.

took the Chair.

The Minister has pointed out that there has been a reorganisation of the staff, leading to a reduction of something like £4,000 in comparison with last year, notwithstanding the increase in the bonus. I notice that there has been a reduction in the number of lower executive officers from eleven to seven, and a reduction of from fourteen to seven in another class, but there has been an increase in the number of temporary clerks from six to eleven.

I should say that to some extent the figures are not really comparable there, because last year it had not been fully determined what the organisation would be, and the number of staff shown for 1924-5 was never actually reached or employed. Provision was made for them when the Estimates were being prepared, in the belief that they would be wanted, but the number was never really as great as was shown.

Does that mean that there is no actual decrease in the expenditure, but rather an increase?

There is a decrease, but not quite as much as is shown in the estimate.

Are we to understand that there has not been a decrease in the number of lower executive and lower clerical officers to make room for an increase in temporary clerks? That would be a reversal of what I understood to be the policy of the Ministry, namely, to place temporary men in established positions or to replace temporary clerks by established clerks. In this case, on the face of it, it appears as though there had been a reduction in the number of established officers and an increase in the number of temporary clerks. If I am to understand from the Minister that that has not in fact taken place, that there were never more than seven lower executive officers and seven clerical officers, the point of criticism falls. But, if there has been a decline in the number of lower executive officers and clerical officers, and an increase in the number of temporary clerks, then some explanation is required, and it is a bad policy to have followed.

What actually happened was that last year we were attempting to fix the organisation for the office. This office had a great deal of new work thrown on it on being taken over. Previously, for instance, all matters in connection with the purchase and acquirement of paper, and a great deal of work even in connection with contracts, was central work done in London. To a very considerable extent the Stationery Office here was a mere agency of the London Office—a distributing agency to a very considerable extent. Great quantities of forms generally used throughout the service were printed in England and simply sent over to the Stationery Office for distribution. When we took over, the Stationery Office had to take on all this new work. A staff was thrown together which included a considerable number of temporaries. Last year we were working at a scheme of organisation and a tentative scheme was put into the estimate. That scheme did not represent the realities at the time the estimate was prepared, but what we intended to have. As a matter of fact, not only were there the number of temporary clerks now shown last year, but there was an additional number of temporary clerks. Last year we had not eleven lower executive officers, nor fourteen clerical officers. We had actually only six lower executive officers and we had more temporary clerks than are now employed. What we have actually done is that we have increased the number of established officers and decreased the number of unestablished officers.

These eleven temporary clerks are shown in the estimate at a salary scale from 60/- to 95/-. That would not go to show that the men were in a temporary position, but rather that it was expected they would reach the maximum after some time. Are any special qualifications required for temporary clerks in this department? One cannot fail to notice the difference between the scale laid down for temporary clerks in this department and what is paid to temporary clerks in other Government departments.

I would prefer to see the other people paid on the same scale laid down here for temporary clerks. The figures are shown in an extraordinary way, going from 60/- to 95/-. Making a rough-and-ready calculation, it would appear that some of the 11 are paid over 60/-, as there is a difference of £304 between this year's estimate and last year's estimate. Some people are employed apparently at a higher figure than 60/-. We had not these figures in the Estimates last year nor any figures showing the scale of payment for temporary clerks.

A number of the temporary clerks are in fact men of experience and with technical knowledge of the paper trade or of printing accounts. They are men who will probably be established. The intention is that they should be put up to the Civil Service Commission for establishment. They are not simply the class of temporary clerks who are taken in the ordinary way into Government offices. They are men who are supposed to have certain technical knowledge to deal with stationery, paper, printing and printing accounts.

What I want to call attention to is the scale laid down for temporary clerks in other departments. Every individual in his own particular sphere of work has some technical skill for working in a particular department, just as these men are claimed to have who are paid the figures mentioned for working in the Stationery Office. I think the Minister should east his eye over the different Estimates, and he will see that there is a considerable difference between the figures put down for temporary clerks in this Department, and, say, in the Land Commission or the Department of Defence. I think the figure here is a fair and reasonable one, but certainly the sum paid temporary clerks of a certain type in the Land Commission or the Department of Defence is not what one would regard as a living wage for that particular work.

There is this difference, that you have to recruit from the printing offices and other places men who have some actual knowledge of printing work, paper and of Stationery Office requirements. Actually a number of these men are compositors who are being paid for doing work in the Stationery Office. They served their time as compositors, and they are paid at trade-union rates in the Stationery Office. The people employed in other offices are people who can read and write and have certain educational qualifications, but no particular skilled knowledge. They require experience and become more valuable in the office they are in as time goes on. They are not in the same class with men who had experience of any particular branch of work outside. In ordinary clerks who get into the Department of Defence you do not look for anything except the ordinary educational requirements necessary for clerical work. It is not considered ordinarily a desirable thing to have temporary clerks except when some mass of temporary work arises. We have partly inherited a position in which there is a big body of temporary clerks only, some of whom can be got rid of without causing very considerable hardship. The general position we aim at is that we regard a temporary clerk as someone that we take in and give a job for the time being, but whom we do not intend to retain permanently in the service. The scale is fixed on that basis.

And I hope increased accordingly on account of the temporary character of the work.

On sub-head (e), I think this is a suitable time to raise a question regarding the sale of the publications issued by the Oireachtas. I take it that this is the Vote for the Estimates dealing with the Appropriation Account. I think the general feeling of the Dáil is one of regret, at hearing the Minister say that, of one of these comparatively cheap publications, only 47 copies were sold, and in another case only 11 copies were sold. If we are to be criticised—and Heaven forbid that we should not be criticised —we would prefer to be intelligently criticised. Without these documents it is really very hard for anyone to form an accurate and clear idea of what we are doing. The Minister has done his best. I was prepared to attack him on this point, but I do think he has done his best to reduce the prices and bring these publications within reach of the public. I am still a little doubtful as to whether he has done enough to bring them to the notice of the public. It seems to me that very few people know that the Estimates and Appropriation Accounts are obtainable at all. You go either into a basement or into an upper storey in one particular shop in the city and there you can obtain them. That firm pay, I think, £300 a year for the privilege of selling them. If they are not put on the market in a business way that £300 a year is dearly gained. For instance, I should like to see a somewhat larger free distribution of these publications, because I believe it would whet and increase the demand. Any person who brings out a book knows that the publisher will send a number of copies out for review. I believe our publications are sent to the Press in the same way, but they do not always get the same review. I would carry that principle a little farther. I believe it would be a sound step economically, and I am sure it would be a sound step politically, to send copies of the various publications to any large free libraries in the Saorstát. I believe if that were done you would find that people who got into the habit of consulting them there would finally think it would be a great convenience to themselves to consult them at home, and that it was well worth 3/- or 5/-, as the case might be, to get them. What is really needed is wider knowledge. Once wider knowledge of these things and wider knowledge of the extraordinarily interesting points that could be made against the Government as a result of reading them exists, I believe that the demand would increase.

I know that in 1923 I bought a copy of the Estimates for that year at 10/-. I never spent 10/- with more satisfaction. I had material out of that for at least half-a-dozen speeches. There was one other point that I desire to refer to. The Minister rather gave the impression that there would have been an even greater reduction in this Vote had it not been for the legislative action of the Oireachtas. I think that was the way he phrased it. Every Vote relating to the Oireachtas is down. This Vote is reduced by £1,500 and the next by £1,000. A false impression might be created that we are extravagant, whereas we are reducing our demands.

I would like to support Deputy Cooper's suggestion, but I desire to push it more strongly than he has done. I feel it is quite true that the public generally do not know what publications are being issued as a result of the work of the Oireachtas or as a result of the work of different departments of the Government. At the particular stage at which our people have arrived, when you are endeavouring against certain difficulties which are being overcome to make them realise that a State is being built up here, the more they know of what is being done by Government Departments and by the Oireachtas to build up that State, and the more they know of the functioning of the machine here the greater the possibilities of getting done what they wish to have done for themselves. I would take away the word "large" and suggest that all public libraries ought to get copies of Government publications, even to the extent of giving them every Bill in the stage in which it is introduced here, so that the public generally, when a Bill is being introduced in the Dáil, will have an opportunity at the earliest moment of consulting the terms of that Bill at the nearest public library. It is quite possible that in time it would secure that our legislation would be improved by many valuable suggestions from people who are on the spot and interested. It would help to train our people to watch what was being initiated in the shape of legislation here and to think whether there were any things they would require done from their particular view in any particular line. I think our legislation would be the better of it.

The same applies to clubs of different kinds in the country. It came under my notice a very long time ago that, even in the case of private authors, small clubs or pseudo-clubs— because certain people got into the habit of knowing that by calling themselves a club they were able to write to an author and get a free copy of a book—made application for their books. Private individuals can do that, and it is done, I think, to a very large extent. Distribution of Government publications on a larger scale would mean that people would grow to have a broader outlook on what the work of the Government here is. I think we ought to be prepared to see that money is spent in letting the public generally have the greatest possible opportunity of seeing what is being done here. Another matter arises, and it is that our different professions, and the different classes of business people in the country, could, and would, probably, be induced to pay a composite annual fee in order to get certain selected publications sent them. It might be that a consultation with some of the principal legal men in the country would result in a schedule of publications that the Government would issue from time to time, and that would be particularly applicable to the legal fraternity. The same would apply to other professions in the country. With these lists circulated, persons paying a certain annual amount to the Government, could receive copies of them systematically as the publications that would interest them came out. It is a matter that might cost some money, but I think it would be well worth looking into.

There is another point that, perhaps, might be raised here, and it is connected with our own difficulties, as Deputies, in the handling of the great amount of papers that come our way, even if we consider only the Bills and the amendments as they come to us. I would like to suggest that the first issue of a Bill might be sent out with a stout cover of exactly the same size as the Bill itself, and that could receive the subsequent copies of the Bill and the amendments as they are printed. If possible, all the Bills might be punched. It is very difficult to handle the number of Bills that come our way. If it were obvious to us that there would be a systematic way of dealing with each Bill, and if the first copy of the Bill is issued as I suggest, so that it will receive all subsequent copies in the same cover, it would lighten the physical work of keeping all the papers. From my point of view I know it would, at any rate. Perhaps that suggestion might get some consideration. Possibly, this is not the place to raise the matter, and that the Committee on Privileges would be the proper body to consider it.

I would like to support Deputies Cooper and Mulcahy generally. I wish to refer specially to the point raised by Deputy Cooper in regard to the Press. I would like to know what is the general practice with regard to Government publications, whether they are, as a matter of fact, supplied free to the Press. If they are not, I think they should be, just as publications generally are sent around to the Press for review. I have heard many newspaper men, especially local newspaper men, say they would be very pleased if they could get copies of the Dáil Debates.

In the country? Why, we might then be accused of sending them the copies.

It is to obviate the possibility of that accusation that I am making this suggestion. The weekly newspaper is very much read in the country. The local paper is much more read than the daily papers, and many editors would be glad to have the Dáil Reports and would use them to a large extent. It would be advantageous from many points of view. It would get the country interested in what is being done here. The daily paper cannot afford to report more than a scanty portion of the debates. That is all they do, in any case, day by day; but the local paper has much more space available. Possibly many people would be interested in the proceedings of the Dáil if they were printed in the weekly papers; they would be interested even as much as they are in the proceedings of local authorities. With regard to the Estimates, there is a suggestion I would like to make, a suggestion that may be worthy of consideration. Even at 5s., which is as cheap a figure as the Estimates can be produced at, the ordinary man would consider them dear. He will not pay 5s. for a copy. The number who will buy a copy is very small. There are many people interested only in one section of the Estimates. It was the practice in Britain to publish the Estimates in sections. I remember in the old days we used always get the Civil Service Estimates, those that dealt with Civil Service, Education, and so on, and we did not bother about purchasing the whole publication. We merely got the section of special interest to us. There are many who would be interested in Estimates concerning education and who would not trouble about other Estimates.

Similarly, there would be many interested in the Estimates of the Department of Agriculture and the Estimates of the Department of Justice. Each would have its clientele. People would purchase that particular section if it could be produced at a reasonable price, and I see no reason why it should not be. There would be no great difficulty in getting it done. The Government would have the full volume printed also, for circulation to Deputies and for sale. It would not mean extra printing, though it might mean extra binding. You could have the sectional Estimates produced at 6d. or 9d. In that way there would be a considerable sale for the smaller sections, which you would not get for the book as a whole.

At present certain of the large free public libraries do actually get copies of the publications. I would consider the question whether we could not send certain of these things to certain types of institutions, like libraries, free. I would not like to send publications out free to clubs or associations like that. I do believe that you will not get any more attention paid to them or any more study of them by sending them round free. It is better that people should pay, and I think you will find that there will be really as much interest shown in them if people have to pay. There is at present an arrangement whereby by paying a composite fee a person can get every document published by the Stationery Office—Dáil Debates, Bills in every stage, Acts when they become Acts, Statutory Orders, Regulations and everything of that sort. That fee is £15.

How many subscribers have you?

I do not know. I think some of the newspapers do subscribe. I know one subscriber myself, but I think there are others.

There might be another.

There is a certain number, not a very large number, I will say.

How many people know that they can get them for £15?

We never heard of it before.

I do not suppose the Deputy would pay, in any case.

We might have induced other people to pay.

At one time, a certain amount of newspaper advertising was done with a view to securing a wider sale for these publications, but there were practically no results from that advertising. There were practically no sales. We could try further advertising. There is to be, for instance, a journal issued by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, a monthly journal, which might be read in a way that the Iris Oifigiúil is not read. We can try to issue lists of Government publications that we think would attract some attention and would arouse some interest, and see whether we can get larger sales. One would expect, for instance, that country newspapers would really be prepared to pay for things like the Dáil debates. I am not much in favour of sending out free copies of our publications. I would undertake to go into the question of whether we could arrange to send, for instance, these Debates to newspapers, outside the newspapers that are likely to be represented in the Press Gallery, at some reduced rate.

Can the Minister say what the existing subscription rate for Dáil Debates is? It is either £2 10s. or £3.

I could not say at the moment.

It is about 1/- a week.

The amount is actually £3 3s. per annum. After all, even that sum is not very large for a newspaper to pay for what might be of considerable interest to its readers.

It would be cheaper than a reporter.

I think it is clear that it is not a question of cost that prevents them being purchased, and if people will not pay a little for publications, you may be certain that if they are sent through the post free to them they will only go into the wastepaper basket. They are not likely to be studied or read.

Might I intervene for a moment to say that I am quite certain that it is not generally known to the editors of local papers that they can have a copy of the Dáil debates every day for a subscription of £3 3s. per annum? I am quite certain it is not generally known.

We can take steps to let people know what the position is in regard to getting the Dáil debates and the whole of the publications of the Stationery Office. I would also undertake to consult the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs to see if it could be arranged to do something on the same lines, as he did in connection with the National Loan. We published a certain circular. Without its being addressed at all, batches were given to postmen, who were instructed to deliver them on their rounds. I would consult with the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs on the question of a distribution of some circular in connection with Dáil publications, a statement of prices, and some general statement in regard to their value, that would be of interest to citizens who are interested in public affairs, and to see if we could stimulate any interest.

It is difficult to undertake a method such as Deputy O'Connell suggests of getting out the Estimates in two or three sub-volumes. The possibility is that for each small volume you get, you may have only half a dozen purchasers and the experience that we have had seems to indicate that there would really be no sale. I do not know where the blame is, but I do not think the position about the sale of Government publications is entirely as bad as Deputy Cooper seems to suggest. I understand that you have not to go to the basement. You can get Government publications on the ground floor. I know also that cards are displayed at railway book-stalls and other places stating that Government publications can be got. I think I have seen one or two Government publications displayed so that they are not actually hidden away.

They are not very obvious to the naked eye, if they are on the ground floor.

I have certainly seen notices stating that Government publications can be got. I have seen these personally.

The windows at the entrance to Eason's display the publications.

I saw them also displayed at the Spring Show, and I did not hear that there was any great sale of them. They were probably brought under the eyes of a great many people, but the position frankly seems to be that we have not got a public opinion that seems to take any interest in them.

Perhaps they underestimate the value of our remarks.

I am not speaking so much of the Debates because, after all, people will get all they want and perhaps more than they want, of the Debates in general, from the different newspapers. There are other volumes, such as the Appropriation Accounts, the Report of the Public Accounts Committee and its proceedings, that are of the very greatest value. It would really give people some idea of the essentials of democracy if they were able to see the Report of the Public Accounts Committee. There is certainly no publication that would be of more value to the public.

Might I correct the Minister. He under-stated the price. I think he said 7s. 6d. It is 14s.

That is a misprint, because it has been actually sold at the other price.

I did not pay for my copy.

Fourteen shillings represents the actual cost and through some error that was printed on the publication.

As a matter of fact, the actual cost as given on the volume is a sum of £400.

Deputy Mulcahy raised a question about providing a cover for Bills. I do not know whether he is the only Deputy in the Dáil who keeps documents, but I should say he is almost the only Deputy.

I was waiting for the Minister to explain the principles on which prices are fixed for official publications. You have the Appropriation Accounts as an example. They are charged at 3/6. There is a certain number of these that must of necessity be printed, and they would cost a certain sum. I submit for the consideration of the Minister that it would be profitable and a good education to the public, if the additional number of copies that would likely be sold would be printed at a price which would merely represent the extra cost of machining and binding.

That is what is actually done. It is the re-printing cost, the cost of getting a re-print of any number of the volume, that is charged to the public.

Does the Minister mean a re-print? Fourteen shillings, for instance, is set out as the price of the printing and the paper of the Report of the Committee on Public Accounts. It is sold at 7/6. Are we to understand that the cost of sending off another 100 copies and the binding, is 7/6?

If, having got what we wanted and the type is standing, we ordered 100 copies or more than 100, it would mean 7/6.

I am not yet clear. If there are 400 copies printed of necessity, and if instead you ordered 500 and bind 500, are we to understand that the cost of printing of the extra 100 would be 7/6 per copy? I can hardly understand it. Certainly it is not in accordance with my experience of printing. I think that some general principle should be used in the fixing of the prices of official publications. In regard to the daily reports, there was a reduction from 1/- to 6d. I have been asked by quite a number of people in different parts of the country, at different times, in respect to special reports—special debates— whether it would not be possible to get copies at a price lower than 6d. If the cost of any extra number is 6d., then, I think 6d. will have to be charged. I do not think, for the time being, it is wise to undergo a further loss.

I think if the extra number of copies that would be estimated for—assume it to be for one edition only—were sold at not more than 3d. per copy, and I think that should be the price, there would be a much greater interest shown in these official publications. That would be the case if the lower-priced publications were popularised, or at least advertised with a view to popularisation. The same difficulty was experienced years ago in regard to British publications, and they undertook an advertising campaign. I think they have now established quite a considerable sale. They continued advertising, and they arranged the advertisements of their publications according to the particular journal they were advertising in and the class of readers they would be appealing to. I would like the Minister to see if it would be possible, as a general practice, to reduce the cost of official publications to the lowest price consistent with no loss. That has not yet been done, I think. I cannot imagine the extra cost of a few copies of the Appropriation Accounts, for instance, in addition to the necessary copies, would be 3/6, or of the Estimates, 5/-. As regards the matter of advertising, which occurred in the course of the Minister's statement, the question has arisen as to the particular kind of advertising. Deputy McBride the other day raised the question of the advertisements in the Post Office publications, and pointed out that it is hardly consistent with the policy of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs to advertise Beecham's pills on postal papers when there is some local Cork merchant selling some equally good, or better, pill. I am quite sure they must have been better if they came from Cork. I am quite willing, however, to give that free advertisement to the unknown Cork pill maker. The point is, that I expect that these advertising contracts are let out through a contractor, and it is just to find out whether there is any check on the kind of advertisement that is allowed to appear in official publications that I raise the point. I think there ought to be some discrimination in the class of advertisements that are issued.

The Minister has promised sympathetically to consider the suggestion of Deputy Mulcahy in regard to the circulation of Government publications to libraries and clubs. A difficulty arises in view of the conditional promise given by the Minister in this way, that if the publications are only issued to libraries, it means that the rural populations in the west, south, and midlands are practically excluded from making any use of these particular publications. It is fairly commonly known that in the west, south, and midlands, there are hardly any public libraries in towns with a population of under three thousand, but in towns or villages with a smaller population there are clubs, perhaps temperance societies and sectarian or non-sectarian clubs, where a large number of people, young and old, assemble on Sundays. As the Minister is giving consideration to the existing practice in regard to libraries, he should consider it from the point of view of making these publications available to rural populations as well as to those in cities and large towns, who have the advantages of free libraries. The difficulty will arise in the case of clubs, especially in large cities, as to whether clubs of this kind should get these publications. I think that in any village or town where there is no public library, the Minister should sympathetically consider the point that whatever agreement is come to in regard to libraries, it should be extended to rural populations where a hall is available, particularly where clubs are of a non-political and nonsectarian kind.

I would ask the Minister whether he has considered the practicability of issuing a year-book. New Zealand and Australia issue very useful year-books which contain valuable information about those countries. A year-book of that kind would be very useful to business people outside, who would, perhaps, be thinking of investing or doing business in the Free State, and it would also be of considerable value to the citizens of the Saorstát.

I would like to be quite clear as to the basis on which this price is fixed. I did not follow clearly the statement made by the Minister in reply to Deputy Johnson. I have some small experience of getting printing work done, and I think that anybody who gets publications of this kind printed knows that the first few hundred copies really carry the weight of the price. In the case of a publication in which I was interested, the general tender from most of the printers ran around two hundred pounds for the first five hundred copies. That would work out at seven or eight shillings a copy, but we could get the next five hundred copies at practically one shilling a copy. I take it that there are something like four hundred or five hundred copies of these printed in any case, and after that all that is charged is the price of the paper with the price of the binding and make-up. Surely in the case of this publication the price of the paper and the cost of making-up would not run to five shillings per copy. Anybody who has printing work to get done knows that the whole weight of the cost is in setting up the type, and that after that it is quite cheap. I cannot understand why the paper and the putting together of the book would in this case cost five shillings. I would like to add a word in connection with what the Minister said in regard to the usefulness of reading the Report of the Public Accounts Committee. Anybody who reads it, especially the opening statement, will receive a very good education in learning how Government Departments are run. It would be a great matter if Deputies could induce large numbers of the public to read some of the memoranda set out in the beginning. I believe that we would get less trouble from our constituents as there would be then a different notion regarding the powers of Deputies to move a Government Department, as we are supposed to be able to do at present.

The position is, we get a certain number printed. If we were to take the absolute cost of production we would simply have to divide the price by the number we got printed, and that would have to be the price. We normally get, say, 300 printed, and if it were suggested that we should get another 100 printed for sale, and if we printed 400 instead of 300 it would mean we would have to divide the cost of printing by 400 instead of 300. That, of course, would give a higher figure than the method adopted, which is this: Assuming that the type is standing, what will the printing of a specified number, say another 100, cost? We charge what would be the cost of printing any extra number we order with the type already standing. That is the basis, for instance, on which the charge is made for the Public Accounts Committee Report. If we went tomorrow and ordered extra copies they would cost us at the rate of 7s. 6d. per copy.

I think the Minister has misunderstood the argument. I, at any rate, am not thinking of running off again a new issue. All the work has been done in respect of this volume. Say 400 copies are required for official purposes, and you reckon on the possibility of selling 100 extra, instead of running off 400, you run off 500, and the extra 100 are bound. The cost of the extra number over and above what would be necessary for the 400 should be the price when divided into the total number. I think there could be no loss on it. It would mean that you are selling an article at very much below cost in the ordinary commercial sense, but you would be providing the public with information on which they could base their criticism of the Government and Parliament with knowledge. As a rule at present they make that criticism without knowledge.

Is not this really the case? Deputy Johnson wants 100 extra copies printed; if these 100 are taken up by the public, well and good, and if they are not it means 100 waste copies, which will have to be scrapped, and that must mean increasing the price per copy for ones that must in the ordinary way be printed. Looking at Government publications as a whole, and trying to estimate what likelihood there is of the public generally being purchasers, I think it must be recognised, at all events in the present state of public opinion, that there will not be ready purchasers for most of the documents issued from this House. It must be borne in mind also that the public as a whole are either too lazy, or they have too much to do, to sit down and peruse documents like the debates of this House. They are quite satisfied to take the condensed accounts as given by the Press of what happened in the Dáil. I do not think advertisements and propaganda are going to get any reasonable number of the public to read these volumes in detail.

Not to read them in detail, but for reference.

I think the suggestion that these documents should, as far as possible, be distributed amongst libraries for reference is a good one, but I do think, to expect, even if you do reduce their price, that the public will buy documents of that kind, is a little bit sanguine as to the popular case.

In connection with the reports of the proceedings of the Oireachtas, I know that many of the provincial papers, nearly all of whom I am acquainted with, would be very happy to get these publications with a view to publishing extracts from them, or publishing the reports in detail. I do not know of any paper that would not be anxious to get them. I have met journalists who have asked me if I could get them copies. I could get copies if I chose to do it, but I did not. Some of them have found the means of getting copies, either as purchasers or otherwise, and reports taken from these publications are published extensively in the local Press, and these reports are eaten up by the local public. I have been told by local people that these reports are the most interesting things they see in the local papers. If these reports were sent to the local Press they would reach all the public, and they would be read with avidity. I think it would be a wholesome thing to have them made available for the provincial Press. I am convinced they are wanted in the country, and that they would be welcomed. This would be better than to have reports published, perhaps, in only some papers, and leave Deputies open to the slur that they asked papers down the country to have reports concerning themselves published, which I know is not a fact. If they are published at all, it is because the editors down the country think they are good material and they want them published, especially, I believe, in South Tipperary.

I think that the method that is pursued is a method that enables us to put as cheap a price on these volumes as can be put on them. I will look into it again but as far as I understand, nothing would be saved by adopting Deputy Johnson's suggestion. In fact, in a great many cases that is actually what is done. The re-print is got before the plates are taken off the machine, and as far as I can understand the matter, we could not sell such publications as have been mentioned more cheaply without an actual loss. As a matter of fact, the price is, in certain cases, actually cut below what it should be even on the cheapest basis. I do not know whether Deputy Gorey has heard that the country papers can get the Dáil Debates, which, I take it, was what he was chiefly referring to, at an annual fee of £3 3s. 0d.

I know that they did not know that.

We will certainly bring it to their notice.

Send them this copy anyhow.

The Minister has stated that some of those large contracts for printing have been subdivided, and that that policy has resulted in economy. I would like to ask him if the proprietors of provincial printing offices are aware that these contracts are open to competition and if the contracts are publicly advertised?

Yes; quite a number of provincial firms have got contracts and very large numbers have actually tendered.

I would ask your leave, A Leas-Chinn Comhairle, to take sub-heads (i) and (j) together, because the Stationery Office supplies the paper on which the printing is done it is a little difficult to dissociate the printing from the paper. Dealing with (i) and (j) together, I would like to call the attention of the Dáil to the expenditure on printing and stationery shown on pages 82 and 83 for the various public Departments. Deputies will find that the largest item is printing under the Representation of the People Act. That has been more or less explained on an earlier Estimate. The next largest item is £28,000 on printing and paper for the Army. Without further explanation, that seems to me to be a very large amount. I am glad to see that the Minister for Defence is in his sentry box mounting guard over this item, and we may get some explanation of it from him. The Army costs £28,000 for printing and paper—more than twice as much as the Oireachtas. For every golden word uttered in the Seanad, and for every green word that is uttered here, the cost is half as much as for the strong, silent Army in respect of printing and paper. On a rough calculation—it is very rough and may be wrong—the Army is spending £1 10s. 0d. per serving soldier on printing and paper. Is it not possible to reduce that amount to some extent? I cannot help feeling that a great deal of the work that might be done by the duplicator is being printed, and at disproportionate cost. If you have units like a brigade that has to produce, say, twelve or perhaps twenty copies of its daily orders, these might be duplicated and not printed. I think the Estimate is one that requires a little further justification, because, taking the strength of the Army into account, I find that the cost works out at more than £1 10s. 0d. In fact, it works out for an Army of 14,000 men at about £2 0s. 0d. per man.

I do not know whether the Deputy has noticed that this is rather an indication than an estimate. It shows last year's expenditure, but it does not detail the expenditure that is estimated for this year.

Presumably it has some relation. The Army was at the same strength last year.

No, because a lot of initial expenditure was incurred last year on drill books, orders, and all sorts of expensive publications that had to be got. They will not have to be repeated this year.

I am glad to have that explanation. It justifies me in discussing the point. That is, as the Minister explains quite truly, last year's expenditure, but we cannot dismiss it from mind in reviewing the coming year's expenditure. We should have been given some indication that this is abnormal expenditure. For instance, in the Oireachtas Vote we are told that it includes the cost of printing the debates and records, but in the Army Vote we are not given any explanation at all. If it were necessary to set the Army up with a stock of new typewriters, that would involve an inflation of the Vote. The only point I am trying to make is that we ought to have a little more justification for this amount before we pass the Estimate for printing and paper in the coming year.

I have already indicated to the Deputy some of the circumstances which made the estimated expenditure on this item very high in the year 1923-24—the year that has been actually completed in the Appropriation Accounts. At that time, not only was there this initial expenditure, but there was a much larger Army than we have at the present time.

I forgot to refer, when I was speaking on another sub-head, to the question of the year-book which Deputy Sears mentioned. I know that the question of a year-book has been engaging the attention of the Ministry of External Affairs, and it is also proposed, in connection with the Bureau of Statistics, that as soon as it can be done, some volume should be published giving the more important statistics of the State in one publication.

Vote put and agreed to.