HC Deb 15 December 1980 vol 996 c18
21. Mr. Viggers

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many authors are expected to benefit during the first full year of operation of the public lending right scheme; and what is the average amount expected to be paid to each.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

For planning purposes, it is estimated that up to 50,000 authors may register an entitlement for PLR during the first year. It is impossible to say what the average entitlement is likely to be since it will depend upon the eventual number of eligible authors, the number of times their books have been borrowed and the amount available in the central fund for distribution.

Mr. Viggers

Does my right hon. Friend remember that when I last asked a question on this general subject, in June of this year, he was able to announce that he was cutting the administrative cost of the public lending right by about one-half? Is he aware that many of us think that about £⅓ million is still too much? Is there any chance of a repeat performance from him?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

We have cut the adminstrative cost right down to the bone, but we are always willing to look to see whether there can be further economies before the scheme is laid before Parliament, which will be early in the Session, I hope shortly after we return from the Christmas Recess.

Mr. Rhodes James

I declare an interest as an original supporter of the Public Lending Right Act 1979, as my right hon. Friend knows. Will he recognise that the awards to authors from the scheme will be extremely meagre and that either the scheme ought to be entirely re&-vamped or he should review the position, if he is seriously interested in authors having a real reward for their sales?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I disagree entirely with my hon. Friend. The scheme represents a major breakthrough in principle and the recognition of a right in authors. That we cannot devote a large sum of money to it is regrettable, but I believe that the authors will benefit. What is important is that the right has at long last been recognised.