HC Deb 04 February 1971 vol 810 cc1904-5
29. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT details of per capita expenditure on public libraries by each of the largest 20 cities or county boroughs in England and Wales outside London; and whether she will make a statement on Government policy towards those authorities with below-average expenditure.

Mr. van Straubenzee

The information requested is published in the annual Public Library Statistics issued jointly by the Institute of Municipal Treasurers and Accountants and the Society of County Treasurers. Per capita expenditure is one of the factors taken into account in assessing the adequacy of a local authority's public library provision. A lower-than-average expenditure would not necessarily of itself be sufficient reason for Government action.

Mr. Judd

Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that there are a number of boorish local authorities, including, I am sorry to say, the Conservative-controlled City Council of Portsmouth, with an absolutely disgraceful record in terms of public library service? What does he intend to do to promote greater interest and greater attention on the part of these local authorities to this public service?

Mr. van Straubenzee

The statistics do not bear out that unreasonable criticism of Portsmouth. The central problem, as the hon. Member must know better than I, is the replacement for the Central Library. That, as he knows, is in hand.