British Library Board (Power to Borrow) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:42 pm on 13th March 2020.

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Photo of Tracy Brabin Tracy Brabin Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 12:42 pm, 13th March 2020

I am not surprised that the hon. Gentleman intervened on that point. I am sure, given his abilities of persuasion, that that is just around the corner any day now. He will have to talk to his colleagues to make that happen, but I am sure he has friends in the right places, which is always helpful.

We will, hopefully, secure the money to support the British Library in Leeds and West Yorkshire. There is also the £13 million, which the hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden talked about, to expand the Business and IP Centre national network to 20 centres in 2023, with 18 of those developing hub and spoke models to extend their reach into more local libraries and places across England.

My local libraries in Cleckheaton, Heckmondwike, Birstall and Batley will be delighted to support that, but I have to mention the cuts to our local councils, which have meant that all the libraries I have mentioned are hanging on by a thread. They are being kept open for our communities by dedicated volunteers who are working full time, Monday to Friday. The hon. Gentleman talked about why we keep libraries open. They are centres to combat loneliness, access digital services and keep young people off the street. I believe there is much more we can celebrate about libraries than just books. They are the heart of our communities.