HC Deb 05 January 2004 vol 416 c5
3. Linda Perham (Ilford, North) (Lab)

What assessment she has made of the recent study by Spectrum Strategy Consultants and Indepen of the value of the work of the British Library. [145829]

The Minister for the Arts (Estelle Morris)

As my hon. Friend knows, that study estimates the value of the British Library's services to the UK economy by asking a sample of users and general public about the value they place on them. It provides positive support for the Government's continuing investment in the British Library.

Linda Perham

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Does she know that the results of the study show a 4:1 benefit-cost ratio? As she mentioned, the study clearly demonstrates the considerable value of the British Library's work to the country. not only in the cultural sphere but in underpinning research and innovation, which are fundamental to the competitiveness and growth of the British economy.

Estelle Morris

I am happy to agree with my hon. Friend. Indeed, the research confirms what many of us already knew—that the British Library is one of the institutions of which we have every right to be very proud. It contributes to the whole range of British activity. There is an interesting argument about the type of research that brought about those results, but I none the less applaud and recognise the work of the British Library in bringing proof that the money that is invested—taxpayers' money—is actually giving a return. I am happy to congratulate the British Library, to welcome the report and to continue to work with the library in the future.

Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West) (Con)

In assessing the study, will the Minister look again at ways in which assistance could be extended for Braille lending, especially through the work of the National Library for the Blind, and ways in which that might also be offered through the British Library?

Estelle Morris

I am happy to do that. With regard to the original question, the report was made by the British Library, not by the Government; the library took the decision to fund the research and we are happy to read the report and observe it. We may act on it in the future.

On the hon. Gentleman's question about the availability of Braille materials, that issue is increasingly important. As a nation, we have become much more aware of what we need to do to support people with disabilities and I shall certainly reflect on that as I reflect on the report from the British Library.

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