HC Deb 21 February 1963 vol 672 c615
5. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what representations he has received from the Governments of India and Pakistan for the transference or disposal of the library formerly in the possession of the India Office; and if Her Majesty's Government will transfer that library or part thereof to one or both of those governments.

Mr. Tilney

Discussions with the Governments of India and Pakistan on the future of the India Office Library have been in progress since 1959, but have not yet been concluded. The second part of the Question does not, therefore, arise.

Mr. Sorensen

If it does not arise, may I ask whether, in view of the fact that many properties have been transferred from the ownership of the British Government to one of these Governments in the past and this has been very wise and proper, it would be equally beneficial and appreciated if this library were substantially to be transferred by agreement to one or other of these Governments? May we take it that discussions on this matter are proceeding at present?

Mr. Tilney

The Law Officers of the Crown have advised that the library is the property of Her Majesty's Government, but my right hon. Friend believes that in the interests of international scholarship this unique library should not be divided or dispersed. Discussions both with India and Pakistan are continuing.

Mr. Driberg

If these Commonwealth Governments are anxious to have this library, or those parts of it which relate to them, would it not be a very good thing to let them have it, and is it not just as possible for students and scholars to go to New Delhi as to London? If the library contains records and reports from former Governors, district commissioners and so on, would it not be possible to get micro-photographic copies made in London before giving the library to these other Governments?

Mr. Tilney

As I said, discussions are continuing.

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