PUBLIC LENDING RIGHT BILL [Lords]

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th May 1976.

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Order for Second Reading read.

9.58 p.m.

Photo of Miss Margaret Jackson Miss Margaret Jackson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Education and Science)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The purpose of the Bill has been widely debated in another place and in the Press. It will give effect to the Government's undertaking to establish a public lending right for the authors of books. The new right will entitle authors to payment from public funds for the use made of their books when they are borrowed from public libraries.

In this country we borrow more than 600 million books each year from more than 6,000 points of issue. About £20 million is spent each year on 13 million books to replenish and improve library stocks.

The difficulty that we have to tackle in this Bill is that at present the author receives only the royalty to which he is entitled for each copy purchased, whether it is purchased by a private individual who puts it on his shelves or whether it is

purchased by a public library which lends it out again and again over a period which may be anything up to 10 years.

I think that there is general agreement that something should be done to remedy this state of affairs. But there are a number of technical problems involved. Many possible solutions have been put forward. One is that when each book is borrowed a stamp should be purchased or some other small payment should be made for the benefit of the author. While it is easy to imagine this happening at the level of the branch library, the problem is one of detail, and, even more, one of the cost of administration of any such scheme. We have hundreds of millions of borrowings, and thousands of borrowing outlets.

It being Ten o'clock, Mr. SPEAKER interrupted the Business.