HC Deb 08 June 1964 vol 696 cc168-70

Amendment made: In page 7, line 5, leave out "Minister" and insert "Secretary of State".—[Sir E. Boyle.]

It being Ten o'clock, further consideration of the Bill, as amended, stood adjourned.

Ordered, That Proceedings on Government Business be entered upon and proceeded with at this day's Sitting at any hour, though opposed.—[Mr. Hughes-Young.]

Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), further considered.

Mr. Chataway

I beg to move, in page 7, line 12, at the end to insert: that where under section 7(1) above the authority is under a duty to make facilities for borrowing available to a person the authority shall not charge that person for borrowing—". This Amendment deals with the "aunt" of my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Denzil Freeth), who was the subject of a good deal of discussion in Committee. My hon. Friend's fear was about a person who might wish to use the library near the place where she shopped, which might be outside the area of the authority where she lived. There might be no arrangements for inter-availability of tickets between the two authorities. The neighbouring authority, which at present can charge her for borrowing books, might not let her continue to use the library if that power to charge were withdrawn. The Amendment enables the library authority to make a charge for lending books to persons not resident in its area. The subsection as amended, therefore, deals with the fears which were expressed by my hon. Friend.

My right hon. Friend has already made it clear that the Amendment must not be taken as weakening the fundamental principle of the Bill that there should normally be no charge for borrowing books from a public library. The Secretary of State, in common with the local authority associations, hopes that there will be a steady extension of the existing arrangements for the inter-availability of borrowers' tickets and, where this is not possible, for inter-authority adjustment in respect of the borrowers who have good reason to use a library which is not within the area of their own authority. There may, nevertheless, be a few cases in which there are no such arrangements for inter-availability of tickets in which the home authority might consider that in view of its own service, it would be unreasonable for it to pay another authority whose library a borrower wished to use. In such cases it might be unreasonable to deny the borrower the right to use the library in question if he or she were prepared to pay a charge which the authority for that library thought it reasonable to demand.

I do not expect that this Amendment would affect large numbers of people, but, on reflection, my right hon. Friend has accepted the arguments advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke, and I hope that the Committee will be prepared to accept the Amendment.

Mr. Denzil Freeth

May I tell my hon. Friend that my aunt is very grateful.

Amendment agreed to.