§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
My Lords, I hope that your Lordships will find this to be a non-controversial measure. It passed through the other place without more than passing comment. It makes two changes in the law. In the first place it allows all existing library authorities to abrogate the one penny in the pound rate that they are now entitled to raise. This is necessary owing to the fact that in 203 consequence of increase cost some of these authorities so far as their libraries are concerned are practically insolvent. Some have been unable to pay war bonuses to their staffs, local libraries and branch libraries have had to be closed, and repairs have had to be postponed. It is necessary that they should be able to levy a rate of more than one penny in the pound otherwise the work of the authorities so far as their libraries are concerned must cease. The second part of the Bill authorises county councils to become public library authorities within the meaning of the parent Act. This has been found necessary in order to extend public libraries to rural districts which, owing to the smallness of their income, cannot hope to establish libraries as has been the case almost universally in our boroughs. There are two or three technical Amendments to the existing Library Acts, and when we are in Committee I shall ask your Lordships to make one or two further Amendments of a drafting character to this Bill. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Crawford.)
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.