British Library Board (Power to Borrow) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:10 pm on 13th March 2020.

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Photo of Bim Afolami Bim Afolami Conservative, Hitchin and Harpenden 12:10 pm, 13th March 2020

It is close by. There are plans to open a site in Leeds, but more important than all of that is the work that the British Library does in different communities across the country. One reason why the Budget was so good for the British Library is that it will help to increase its number of outposts with public libraries to 20 across the country, with 18 of those operating a hub-and-spoke model: that is where the British Library works with a public library in a large town, with that large town working with smaller villages and smaller towns around it, thereby extending the British Library in effect all the way through to every community in our country.

That is the primary reason for giving the British Library the ability to borrow, because borrowing enables it to take advantage of certain opportunities that may not be possible through a grant. That ability, combined with commercial activities and the rest, can help the British Library do that more and, moreover, perform more than just the functions that we imagine typical of a library—the lending of books, the provision of somewhere to work and so on. Business and intellectual property centres are growing hugely in popularity in the British Library in London and all over the country, and the British Library can help to sponsor the exporting of that model in the country to give many more people the opportunity to set up a business and have the right advice when doing so.

My hon. Friend Kevin Hollinrake is a successful businessman, which is one reason why he is in this place. However, he will know many other people who could have run a successful business if they had had the right advice at the beginning. It is very important that we ensure that. That is one of the functions of a modern 21st century library.