HC Deb 06 February 1969 vol 777 cc574-5
30. Mr. Channon

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he proposes to implement the Arts Council's Report on Public Lending Right.

54. Mr. Fisher

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he proposes to introduce legislation to give effect to the public lending right proposals for authors' royalties submitted to him by the Arts Council in 1967.

Miss Jennie Lee

In a speech in September to the Annual Public Libraries Conference of the Library Association I suggested that the Association enter into a dialogue with the Arts Council about the proposed scheme, because the Library Association had been strongly critical. This it is now doing and the Arts Council is considering what further action might be taken.

Mr. Fisher

Surely the implementation of this Report is a matter of ordinary justice to authors, who cannot make a living from writing because, although public libraries lend about 500 million volumes a year, they pay only for relatively very few of them. The author, unlike the composer, gets virtually no royalties from his work. Cannot the right hon. Lady expedite consideration of this matter?

Miss Lee

I sympathise with what the hon. Gentleman says and I should like to see an honourable and fair solution to this, but the Library Association is strongly opposed to an overall "tax", which is not in the offing at all, and to dealing with this matter in any way which would involve all books in public libraries. There is a sharp conflict between the two views and I hope that they can be resolved or at least brought closer.

Mr. George Jeger

Is my right hon. Friend not aware that, without the public libraries buying books, many authors would have a very small sale? Should not the dialogue be conducted between the poor author and the wealthy publisher?

Miss Lee

That is another point of view. All publishers are not wealthy and all authors are not poor.