HC Deb 13 June 1988 vol 135 c13
48. Mr. Greg Knight

To ask the Minister for the Arts if he will make a statement on the implication for the arts of the public library development incentive scheme which he has set up; and how much funding he intends to award it in the next two years.

Mr. Luce

I have set aside £250,000 a year for the next three years for the scheme, which encourages collaborative ventures designed to lead to improved and more efficient services.

Mr. Knight

Does my right hon. Friend agree that that is excellent news? Will he say which authorities have received those awards and what activities have been covered by them?

Mr. Luce

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's support for these collaborative schemes, which are designed to help to improve services to the public by way of their value for money and efficiency. The schemes range over a cross-section of the country, including the Cleveland county libraries project, to establish a market advice and information centre in Cleveland, and the Sheffield city libraries project, to set up a sports library and information service for the United Kingdom. There are also a number of projects in the south.

Mr. Jessel

As there are 4 million more books in our public libraries than there were in 1979, which is an impressive achievement, does my right hon. Friend think that any incentive is needed for the public to read them?

Mr. Luce

My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the fact that the number of books available in public libraries over the past seven years has increased from 110 million to 114 million, which shows that library services are improving. Since 1979–80 there has been an increase of 5 per cent. in library resources in real terms.

Mr. Dalyell

Will any of the money for public services in the libraries find its way to help house the Thyssen collection? What is the Government's policy?

Mr. Luce

The hon. Gentleman is ingenious in his attempts to raise totally different issues. I do not quite see the link between libraries and his question.