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

My hon. Friend makes a very important point. It is worth now explaining exactly how the process works. In effect, the British Library currently has a grant in aid from the Government through the Department. Under this Bill, in the event that the British Library wishes to borrow any money, it will submit an application for a Government loan. That application will include all terms, including the period of time and any terms on the debt, and the man or woman in Whitehall will have to approve that. But there is no monopoly on wisdom anywhere, so let us just say that the investment does not work—that it goes wrong. In that event, the grant in aid to the British Library would be reduced. This Bill will therefore not result in a loss for the taxpayer. If the British Library takes on debt that it does not pay back—either in part or in full—the consequences will be on the British Library. The big failsafe is the fact that the debt has to be approved by the Government. The British Library will not be going out to commercial banks; it has to go through the Government. Hopefully, that will avoid the problem mentioned by my hon. Friend.