HC Deb 22 February 1993 vol 219 c671
11. Mr. Orme

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what assessment he has made of the effect of this year's local government finance settlement on public library provision.

Mr. Key

I shall collect information from library authorities about their expenditure plans for the coming financial year. That will enable me to make an accurate overall assessment.

Mr. Orme

Is the Minister aware that in the city of Salford tremendous cuts in local government expenditure are bound to overflow into the library service? Does the Minister agree that at a time when we are talking about young people and crime, the last thing we want is to see libraries closing?

Mr. Key

I am, indeed, aware of the position in Salford. I follow the affairs of Salford with great interest and I do not forget that Salford is the home of the first free municipal library service in the world. Of course, public libraries must deliver a comprehensive and efficient service. No decisions have yet been taken by many local authorities in respect of their general or library budgets, but I am watching the matter closely.