Public Library Development Incentive Scheme

Oral Answers to Questions — The Arts – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th June 1988.

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Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight , Derby North 12:00 am, 13th June 1988

To ask the Minister for the Arts if he will make a statement on the implication for the arts of the public library development incentive scheme which he has set up; and how much funding he intends to award it in the next two years.

Photo of Mr Richard Luce Mr Richard Luce , Shoreham

I have set aside £250,000 a year for the next three years for the scheme, which encourages collaborative ventures designed to lead to improved and more efficient services.

Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight , Derby North

Does my right hon. Friend agree that that is excellent news? Will he say which authorities have received those awards and what activities have been covered by them?

Photo of Mr Richard Luce Mr Richard Luce , Shoreham

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's support for these collaborative schemes, which are designed to help to improve services to the public by way of their value for money and efficiency. The schemes range over a cross-section of the country, including the Cleveland county libraries project, to establish a market advice and information centre in Cleveland, and the Sheffield city libraries project, to set up a sports library and information service for the United Kingdom. There are also a number of projects in the south.

Photo of Mr Toby Jessel Mr Toby Jessel , Twickenham

As there are 4 million more books in our public libraries than there were in 1979, which is an impressive achievement, does my right hon. Friend think that any incentive is needed for the public to read them?

Photo of Mr Richard Luce Mr Richard Luce , Shoreham

My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the fact that the number of books available in public libraries over the past seven years has increased from 110 million to 114 million, which shows that library services are improving. Since 1979–80 there has been an increase of 5 per cent. in library resources in real terms.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

Will any of the money for public services in the libraries find its way to help house the Thyssen collection? What is the Government's policy?

Photo of Mr Richard Luce Mr Richard Luce , Shoreham

The hon. Gentleman is ingenious in his attempts to raise totally different issues. I do not quite see the link between libraries and his question.