HL Deb 27 April 1976 vol 370 cc24-96

3.44 p.m.


My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Strabolgi.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL of LISTOWEL in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Establishment of public lending right]:

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No.1:

Page 1, line 5, leave out from ("has") to ("to") in line 6 and insert ("the effect of conferring on authors the right").

The noble Lord said: In moving this Amendment I wish at the outset to congratulate—and I am sure that the Committee will join with me in this—the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kings-bridge, who has received this baby into his arms, at rather short notice, upon his appointment as Minister with responsibility for the Arts. I am sure that I will have much sympathetic support in that, and the noble Lord has my sympathy that the moment the baby is in his arms we are pulling aside the shawl and clicking our tongues over the pimples.

The Amendment which stands in my name, and which relates to page 1, line 5, is designed to have two effects. The first effect is purely to tidy up the language and remove as much as possible of the unnecessary phrase which appears "with a view to conferring… "and in so doing to alter the wording of the Bill as little as possible. The Amendment also has the intention of disabusing the person reading the Bill for the first time of any illusion he may have had that there is a general public lending right implicit in the Bill, because, indeed, there is not. On reading the Bill one finds that the right subsists only in particular kinds of books and in books borrowed from particular kinds of libraries and, indeed, from particular sections of those libraries. We shall come to this later. Thus by deleting the words in quotation marks in the Bill, "public lending right", we are attempting to clean up the wording of the first clause so that it shall read: This Act has the effect of conferring on authors the right to receive from time to time out of a Central Fund… and so on. That is the only right which exists; there is no such general right as copyright. Your Lordships may feel that this ought to be reflected in a new Title to the Bill, but that is something which I leave to the Government to suggest. But at Second Reading they accepted that there is no general right, and I shall be interested to hear what defence they will make of the Bill as it now stands in this clause.

The MINISTER of STATE, DEPARTMENT of EDUCATION and SCIENCE (Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge)

First, I wish to thank the noble Lord for his kind words, and I hope that by the end of our consideration of this Bill he will not wish to withdraw any of them. I wish to say two other things at this moment. In taking over this difficult Bill at this stage, at short notice, I must pay tribute to my predecessor who did an enormous amount of work in getting the Bill as far as it is, and I wish to be on record as saying how much I appreciate that. I also wish to say how much I appreciate the tactful and admirable way in which my noble friend Lord Strabolgi took this Bill through Second Reading. I am sorry to take it away from him; I only wish I could leave it with him. I am very grateful to him for sitting here and holding my hand, which I am sure will be very necessary. May I make a third comment? I must, in all fairness, declare an interest, because I hope very much that the result of this Bill will, through my wife's writing, affect my old age in an agreeable way. Although I had nothing to do with drafting the Bill and, therefore, it is in no way suspect up until this minute, from this minute on a suspicion may exist in the minds of noble Lords and it would be a perfectly sound suspicion.

I had hoped to open the proceedings in an attitude of peace and good will by agreeing to this Amendment, but I will not be able to do quite that. I am in full agreement with the wording, which is really too inelegant for us to pass, and this will certainly go back and have to be redrafted. But it is worth noting that the Bill itself does not confer the right on authors; the noble Lord said this. The right is contingent upon registration of individual books in accordance with the scheme under Clause 1(7), and the description of the Bill in Clause 1(1) must reflect this process. As it stands, the Amendment would remove from this clause the crucial words "public lending right" which are used throughout the Bill, and we are quite clear that they ought to appear here in Clause 1(1). The authors' aim has been to establish a public lending right and the purpose of the Bill is to provide for this. If the noble Lord will leave this matter with me I will take it back and have a new phrase prepared for the next stage, but I think that I shall want to keep in the words "public lending right", and I shall want to make it clear—it would not be quite clear from the Amendment—that the right depends on registration.


I am much obliged to the noble Lord in coming at least half way to meet what I put before him. Of course I accept that the words public lending right appear elsewhere in the Bill, and to that extent this was a probing Amendment. I accept gratefully the assurance of the noble Lord that he will at least improve the English of the draftsmanship, and with that said I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.


While we are about this, may I say how much all writers welcome the appointment of my noble friend to handle the arts on behalf of the Government? It has given great pleasure throughout the literary and artistic world. Secondly, can we not solve this problem, which seems to be not a very serious one, by merely inserting an indefinite article, so that it reads "known as a public lending right"? The phrase, "public lending right" itself is extremely comprehensive: "a public lending right" would be very simple and perfectly good English, and would remove some of this difficulty.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.51 p.m.

Lord WILLIS moved Amendment No. 2:

Page I, line 8, leave out ("books") and insert ("works").

The noble Lord said: It will perhaps be to the convenience of the Committee if I in fact speak on a number of Amendments, which are really textural Amendments, which relate to the one I am moving now. They are Amendments to Clause 1, Clause 3 arid Clause 4. It may also be to the convenience of the Committee if the Amendment to be moved by the noble Lord, Lord Ironside—Amendment No. 40—should be debated at this moment under this general principle. May I add to the general congratulations, and welcome the Minister. I should also like to support the remarks he made about his predecessor, who I think made a great contribution to the arts in general, particularly in the amount of money that he got for the Arts Council, though I must say in all honesty—and this is a very difficult thing to say—that I do not think he left us with a Bill which is in all that good a shape.

I hope, too, that the new Minister will perhaps take a more reasonable attitude towards some of the Amendments that are being suggested than seemed to be indicated in the past. It may be that I am speaking with a dewy-eyed innocence, but it seems to me that the essence of a Committee stage—I have not yet got to the amusing part—is that there should be give and take, that Amendments should be discussed in your Lordships' Committee and that the Government should be prepared to listen to them. On the several occasions that we discussed this matter with the previous Minister it seemed to me that he behaved as if he had come down from the mountain with the tablets of stone, except that he went one better than Moses: he brought an eleventh commandment, which was, "Thou shalt not argue". I hope we can discuss all the Amendments that are coming up this afternoon in a spirit of give and take. May I tell the new Minister that authors are not always right, but their batting average is at least as good as that of Ministers or of politicians.

The purpose of these several Amendments to alter the word "books" to "works" is a very simple one. It is to extend the right. We quite understand that the scheme, as distinct from the Bill or Act, must have some initial limitation, and we are quite prepared to accept the fact that, when this Bill passes into law and becomes an Act, whatever scheme is drawn up shall in the initial stages limit itself to payments to book writers and single book writers. But we do not believe that it is necessary at this stage to circumscribe the right as distinct from the scheme, and I hope I can make that point clear. If the Bill stays as it is, further legislation will be required to extend the right, which everyone concerned thinks is reasonable. Indeed, may I remind the Minister that at a meeting on April 10, 1974, it was agreed that, even if the initial scheme was confined to books, the legislation, when drafted, would give the Minister power to extend. That clear undertaking, which was given in consultation with authors' organisations, has been gone back on, so that the Bill as presented to your Lordships uses the word books", whereas the word "works" was clearly understood and accepted at a meeting on 10th April 1974, and was incorporated in a working paper that was discussed by the Technical Investigation Group.

There is, as all your Lordships know, a growing use of cassettes, not only for literary work but for musical works, and there is the loan of records from libraries. At this stage we do not want that all these things should be paid for under a public lending right; the scheme can take care of that. But what we do not want is to have to come back to Parliament in four or five years' time and have to argue about the extension to cassettes and records, and so on and so forth, and for there to have to be a new piece of legislation, or a piece of legislation amending the present Bill. It seems to me to be untidy and wasteful; at the same time, it is unfair to a large number of creative people whose works are used by libaries and who are being left out of the Bill which is at present in front of us.

Even if we were forced to tell them at this stage, "There is no chance of your getting payment under this scheme; it w ill be limited to book writers", I think they would understand, but to leave them out altogether at the moment, and to leave them out altogether against the assurances that were given at the various discussions that were held, seems to me to be wrong. The implementation can come later: what I am asking for is that this Bill should clearly state the basic right, and the basic right must apply to "works" as distinct from "books". I beg to move.


If it is to the convenience of your Lordships, I will speak to my own Amendment, No. 40, as suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Willis, although I had not thought of doing this until he suggested it to me. However, from what he has just said I felt that he wanted to extend the right, but not as far as artistic works or musical works; he wanted to extend it to things like speaking books and cassettes, which in fact involve literary works. The Bill is without a definition of "books", quite obviously. The series of Amendments to be moved by the noble Lord, Lord Willis, to replace this word by the word "works" is, I think, very significant in the sense that it makes clear that the Bill is referring to original material. "Books", I think, may well be thought to be the modern idiom, and many entries in the register, when it appears, will hardly count as "works". For example, there are published books in many lending libraries which are miscellanies of cooking recipes, or of unusual car numbers and their owners. These books are lent out frequently, but I think they can hardly be called, "works".

What I think we need is a reference to the broad fact that books are literary works, as opposed to musical or artistic ones, for instance. The scheme can safely define the details of this, and this is the point that I want to make upon my Amendment. If the noble Lord's Amendment is rejected, I will move my own; but, quite clearly, if the noble Lord's Amendment is accepted, then of course I will withdraw mine.

4 p.m.


My noble friend has moved a very important Amendment. In our discussions we are quite clear—and when I say "we" I mean my predecessor, myself and my noble friend Lord Strabolgi, who have been discussing these things with the Secretary of State—that the philosophical right of a creator of literature to be paid for the use of his literature does not differ in essence from the same right of a creator of different kinds of literature, of sculpture, of painting or of music. So there is no argument that it would be a splendid thing if the creators of these different forms of expression could get what we are trying to give to the authors.

The objections to doing this, therefore, are not philosophical or aesthetic; they are simply practical objections. The first is a very simple one: that if you do no more than the Bill now states, there will still be very little for anybody. To add to the categories of people who, in the end, are going to benefit—or, at any rate, to hold out a hope to them—until the money begins to be made available is not really very sound. Secondly, to find out to whom such monies should be paid would require not only an entirely different system but is liable to require different machinery in the system which is at the moment envisaged and which most people regard as satisfactory; that is, using the ISBN numbers of books as the basis. Even if we had the money to do this, it would be extremely expensive. Probably different libraries would have to be used for sampling. I cannot see why you should give this to one kind of creator rather than to another; so I think that if you are going to increase the coverage at all you will have to include these different categories.

The objections, therefore, from the practical point of view are pretty considerable and I will go into them in detail if necessary. But there is a further objection which, to me, is very fundamental. We have persuaded our colleagues in Government who are all short of money and are looking to where they can find it, to accept this Bill on a strictly limited basis, one which is extremely clear. It is on the basis of books loaned out. I should feel very unhappy to extend the Bill to a number of categories beyond this, even though there was no immediate intention of paying out under those headings.

If one considers the kind of extra expense involved, the lack of money and the fact that until there is enough money available (and nobody knows when this will be) to pay all authors reasonably generously, then any money paid to other people will reduce the amount paid to authors. I think it is a mistake to pursue this theme and I shall ask the Committee not to support the Amendment. I do not think that I want to develop this argument any further at the moment. I think my points are clear. We agree on the philosophical right; but, practically, it would be extremely expensive to accomplish and, morally, in relation to the situation in the country where we have persuaded our colleagues to commit themselves in advance to this small but one hopes one day to grow payment, I think we could not commit them at the present stage to something wider. I would ask the Committee to reject this Amendment on those grounds. When the payment on loans of books is considerable enough to satisfy the authors, then would be the time to come back. The Bill can then be amended, and, in all likelihood, it will need to be amended in other respects. My own feeling is that I do not wish to see this matter pressed today.


While I sympathise with the noble Lord in his financial and diplomatic difficulties; that is, the extreme paucity of the money available and the fact that he and his colleagues have had to persuade a large number of people to accept the Bill on the terms that it is very narrow in its operation, he would help us a great deal in making up our minds about how to respond to his appeal that we should reject this Amendment if he were to tell us what he means by a "book". He has referred to the International Standard Book Number system of book numbering. He has not said whether everything susceptible of carrying ISBN numbering (which goes much beyond what a number of us accept as being a book) would be treated as a book in the Bill.

There is no Government Amendment on the Marshalled List to insert a definition of "book". My noble friend Lord Ironside has put forward a suggested method of remedying this omission. It would be helpful if we knew whether what some of us call a pamphlet and some of us call a paperback is a book or not. Where does a book cease to be a book? Until one knows, whether it can be a composite collection of different sources not all printed although by one author; or whether the Bill is entirely restricted to things which have fly leaves and end papers, it is difficult to know what we are being asked to reject.

Viscount ECCLES

I should like to support what my noble friend has said and, indeed, to support the noble Lord, Lord Willis. What the Minister tells us is that this is not a public lending right Bill at all. In fact, what he said on the first Amendment is contradicted by what he said on the second. On the first Amendment, he said that he would like to keep in the words "public lending right"; but a public lending right, if it means anything, means that some day or other authors will have the right to a reward of some size in respect of all the works which they produce which are, in fact, loaned out to the public in one form or another. What my noble friend argued on the first Amendment is that since this Bill is not a public lending right Bill in any way at all, it is a great pity to have those words in the first clause.


I do not understand how one can say that it is not a public lending right Bill in any way at all. This seems not to apply to what is in front of us at all.

Viscount ECCLES

The phrase "public lending" has always been held to refer to all the books which anybody has produced and which are in public libraries and are lent out; but we know from the financial restrictions that not all the libraries are to be brought in nor, at present, are all books to be brought in. There is a desperate attempt to reduce the number of books in respect of which some payment shall be made so as to come within the limited sum of £l million. In my submission, it does not really matter whether we have "books" or "works" in the clause we are now considering, because in any case there will have to be a definition in the scheme of what we mean by "books" or by "works". It cannot stand as it is because the Government themselves have said that there are very large categories of books—reference books, those written by foreigners, and all kinds of books—which are not to be included in the scheme. Therefore, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Willis, is right. It is better to have in the Bill the wider word "works" because, in any case, it must be whittled down when the scheme comes out.

If, in the course of some years before any real scheme is workable authors agree among themselves that they would like to be participants in the scheme with other ways of conveying their works to the public than actually in a hard-covered book or paper covered book, it would be a great pity if we had to come back again. I think that the Government would be better advised to have the wider word here and to define it when we come to the scheme. With respect to my noble friend Lord Ironside, I see that his Amendment No. 40 reads: 'Books' shall include literary works as prescribed in the scheme. But until we know that, it hardly matters what word we have in Clause 1, but I think that it is advisable to have the word with the widest possible meaning.


I should like to support the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Willis. I should also like to support what the noble Lord, Lord Elton, said. We need a definition of the word "books". As I said on Second Reading, I can find no definition of the word "books" in the Bill. The word "works" would include cassettes and would be a wider and better word to use.


It seems to me the point that has been made, and which has been supported by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, and the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, is so logical that I am at a loss to understand why the Government cannot accept it. We are talking about two different things. We are talking first about the Bill, and secondly about the scheme. In the scheme —to take the second part first—we accept absolutely readily that there must be a limitation. The money is limited and the amount that one has been able to get diplomatically from the Treasury and various other sources is limited. Therefore under the scheme we readily accept that the initial stages must apply only to book writers. That is perfectly clear. We are not arguing about that.

Therefore, we are not asking for more money, for more privileges from the Government, or an extension of right. What we are saying is that if you agree on a public lending right, let that be put into the Bill, and let it be put into the Bill properly. According to the statute, you can then implement it in ten, five, six, seven or eight years' time beyond the book authors according to the scheme. That is another matter. But do not let us introduce a right which is only half a right, in which, by Act of Parliament, it only applies to half the people who have a perfect right to a public lending right. In other words, we are proposing something which will merely tidy up the Bill, which will establish clearly and with justice a lending right, which will apply to books in whatever form, and maybe to paintings, records and cassettes. We understand perfectly that under the scheme it will only apply in the initial stages to books. Parliament can hold back the statutory steps to introduce or extend public lending right to other things at a later stage.

This seems to me perfectly logical and I cannot understand why the Government do not accept it, why it should hold out a little finger to book writers and close its fist to the others. With respect, when the Minister spoke about introducing this on a limited basis—because all one had been able to get was a promise for a certain amount of money—that is not entirely up to discussions through diplomatic channels with other Ministers in whatever House. This is a matter for Parliament, and Parliament decides what shall be done. If Parliament decides, as I hope it will, that the Bill should explicitly underline what is a public lending right, while leaving provisions for the scheme to be brought in at various stages then that is a perfectly reasonable way of going about it. I would ask the Minister to see the logic of this and to give us some assurance on the point.


I should like to ask the Minister whether it is possible to have another look at this matter. The point does not seem to be very difficult. We can settle the scheme in as limited a way as anyone wants. We need not get into too Byzantine complications about what books are; we can just write down simple categories, and deal with this in a few hours in this Chamber. That is not very difficult. It is very easy to get too Byzantine about these things. But there is a very strong case for using the all-inclusive word as a general assurance that this is what we mean by public lending right. This does not seem to me to present any real difficulties. Gloomily, this is going to become more an oral culture and less a literary culture. Probably it will be wise, in ten or fifteen years to have shown that we are aware of the way communication is going. That does not please me, but I am sure it is true. I should like to ask my noble friend if this matter can be looked at with a slightly less fastidious eye.

4.15 p.m.


May I first of all say a word about the definition of the word "books".

It has two clear meanings. One is something which somebody writes which may be in the process of being made. It may be manuscript or anything else. The other meaning is things on a shelf. When I used to read philosophy, we used sometimes to talk about ostensive definition which one did by pointing at things. This is not an appropriate function for a Bill or for an Act of Parliament. This should surely be done by the scheme. We have given a pretty clear indication, in spite of what the noble Viscount said, of what exclusions are envisaged. In the end these have to be laid down in the scheme before which there will be massive consultation and which has to come back to Parliament. I do not think that the request for a definition of the word "books" is valid and I do not think it ought to be given. However, I find the mood of the Committee very clear. I do not want to start off by insisting on Divisions on anything as difficult as this. There is a case on the other side. I am not at all clear that if I say I will look at this again I will do any good to anybody

or do other than delay it. My own view is that that is probably as far as I can go.

At this early stage, I will look at this again but immensely pessimistically. What worries me very much indeed is that if we widen the category there is an implied promise that something is going to be done about it. I do not think that the Government are making any such promise. They are saying that such a thing would be desirable. They are not making any such promise. I am extremely doubtful whether it is possible to deal with the matter in the way the noble Lord has asked for without an implied promise. If there is an implied promise, the answer must be, "No". I hope your Lordships will allow me to consider this matter as I am obviously pretty green on the subject. The advice I have been given is that we cannot do this. But I will have a further look if the Committee wants me to do so. That is the least I can do.


In view of the pessimistic tone of the last reply by the Minister, I would rather go by the mood of the Committee. I should like to press the Amendment.

4.18 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 2) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 63; Not-Contents, 57.

Aberdeen and Temair, M. Clifford of Chudleigh, L. McNair, L.
Airedale, L. Daventry, V. Monckton of Brenchley, V.
Allerton, L. de Clifford, L. Platt, L.
Alport, L. Deramore, L. Porritt, L.
Amherst, E. Foot, L. Rankeillour, L.
Amulree, L. Gladwyn, L. Rochdale, V.
Arran, E. Glasgow, E. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Ashbourne, L. Glenkinglas, L. Sackville, L.
Auckland, L. Granville of Eye, L. St. Davids, V.
Aylestone, L. Greenway, L. Sharples, B.
Balerno, L. Grenfell, L. Slater, L. [Teller.]
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Stamp, L.
Banks, L. Halsbury, E. Strathspey, L.
Barrington, V. Hampton, L. Sudeley, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Harvington, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Boothby, L. Hatherton, L. Tenby, V.
Bridgeman, V. Headfort, M. Teviot, L.
Brockway, L. Ilchester, E. Vivian, L.
Byers, L. Jessel, L. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Cathcart, E. Kinloss, Ly. Willis, L. [Teller.]
Chorley, L. Lytton, E. Wise, L.
Arwyn, L. George-Brown, L. Pargiter, L.
Bacon, B. Gordon-Walker, L. Phillips, B.
Birk, B. Goronwy-Roberts, L. Popplewell, L.
Blyton, L. Harris of Greenwich, L. Raglan, L.
Brimelow, L Henderson, L. Redcliffe Maud, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Hoy, L. Sainsbury, L.
Castle, L. Hughes, L. Segal, L.
Champion, L. Jacques, L. [Teller.] Shackleton, L.
Cole, L. Janner, L. Shinwell, L.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Leatherland, L. Somers, L.
Crathorne, L. Lee of Newton, L. Stedman, B.
Davies of Leek, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Digby, L. Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Strabolgi, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Lyons of Brighton, L. Trammire, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Maelor, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Emmet of Amberley, B. Maybray-King, L. Wells-Pestell, L. [Teller.]
Evans of Hungershall, L. Morris of Kenwood, L. Wilson of Radcliffe, L.
Fisher of Camden, L. Northfield, L. Winterbottom, L.
Gaitskell, B. Pannell, L. Wynne-Jones, L.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

4.27 p.m.

Lady KINLOSS moved Amendment No. 3:

Page 1, line 9, at end insert ("or reference copies of works held by them for consultation on the premises").

The noble Lady said: In moving this Amendment, I should like to quote what the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, said on Second Reading of this Bill in reply to my plea for the inclusion of reference books. He said: I repeat the assurance given in my opening speech; that is, that if an acceptable and effective scheme for reference books emerges, the Government will consider further legislation to extend the scheme.—[Official Report, 5/4/76; col. 1467.]

This is a perfectly simple Amendment. It enables the Government, whenever they feel able to, to admit works of reference held by public libraries into the scheme without any necessity for further legislation. We surely do not want to waste the time of Parliament by having a separate Bill to enable the Government to deal with the just claims of reference authors when a scheme has been agreed for doing so. To omit this Amendment would be to tie the Government to the necessity for future legislation. It seems to me much more logical to leave the Government free. There is plainly a question of justice for all authors. An author is providing a service whether his work is taken home or consulted in the library reference room. Whether a work is classified as a loan work or a reference work is a matter for individual libraries to decide. In some libraries a work can be held in both the loan and reference sections; in some libraries a work will be on the loan shelves, while in other libraries it will be confined to the reference shelves.

On Second Reading, in the same column, Lord Strabolgi, said: The problem is that it is not practicable to measure the use of reference books directly without completely disrupting the work of libraries.

I am advised that in the very largest libraries at most one extra employee would be needed to pass reference works under a scanner before returning them to the shelves; but in the smaller libraries existing staffs could cope since the replacement of books is only a small part of their duties. Therefore I cannot believe there would be any serious disruption. I beg to move.


I have no particularly strong feelings about this Amendment but should just like to say that I think the noble Lady is over-emphasising the situation here. There are not so many reference libraries, and the problem concerning reference is very much less than that concerning lending. I believe that most reference libraries are used purely for reference purposes and for browsing. If one goes into a reference library, if it is an open access library, one might, within five minutes, look at 100 books, if one could do it at that speed, merely by consulting the title, fly-leaf, the first page, the index or something of that kind. Therefore it would be absolutely impossible to keep track. I think reference is very often a good lead into lending; indeed, one finds in a lot of local lending libraries a reference section which in fact is used for browsing, and a reference section very often leads one straight into lending.

Regarding reference books which are published each year, I believe the authors, who are very often companies and not individuals, benefit by the sale of their volumes year by year, and of course there is a second-hand market in large and expensive books of reference. As an example, one might quote one which all your Lordships will know about, and that is Debrett. Therefore, although I do not feel strongly about this Amendment, I should like to say that I feel the problem has been over-emphasised.


May I ask the Minister to explain in a little more detail why reference books were left out in the first place? The Technical Investigation Group produced a very reasonable scheme, which would admittedly have added the sum of £12,000 a year to the cost, but since it would have covered a great number of reference book authors would have been equitable and just. I shall not weary the Committee with details of the scheme, but in practice it would have meant that there was an accuracy of payment to people who had reference books in libraries which very nearly matched the accuracy of payment that can be achieved by the computerised sample for fiction authors, and other authors whose books are loaned out of libraries. Therefore, I am at a loss to understand why the stock sampling method which was proposed by the Technical Investigation Group, and which is already working in several countries, was turned down.

It seems to me unanswerable that reference books should be covered in the same way as books by other authors. The difficulty is that they are not taken out of libraries, but, as the noble Lord, Lord Ironside, said, one of them may be referred to 50 times in a day. But the scheme which was worked out by the Technical Investigation Group would cover all that, would put no burden of work or cost on the major reference libraries, and it seems to me so simple and straightforward that I am at a loss to understand why the Government should exclude from this public lending right the great number of reference book authors. So I wonder whether the Minister could say a word about that when he replies.


As chairman of a public authority library committee, I should like to point out that the majority of public authority libraries have reference sections. These are a very major public service and are referred to by many millions of people. The blue Report of the Technical Investigation Group stated that the counting of consultations of books in reference libraries would disrupt the work of libraries to an unacceptable degree, and I feel that this would be a major difficulty. We are making a very good advance by this Bill, but to include the reference sections would create tremendous difficulties for the libraries.


May I support the noble Lady, Lady Kinloss, and what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Willis. It seems to me that the point made by the last speaker is completely answered by the stock sampling device, which is clearly laid out in the Report of the Technical Investigation Group; and I expect that the noble Lady who moved this Amendment would be willing to limit its application, at any rate to begin with, to reference books by single authors. I do not think that any of us has any thought of giving a public lending right to Bradshaw, Debrett or any such work. But there are reference books which are written by authors, just like novels or any other kind of book, so could the Minister please consider very carefully whether it is possible, as I believe it to be, to include these by a stock sampling scheme, which I believe the noble Lord, Lord Willis, said would cost £12,000?

4.36 p.m.


This is a very difficult question, and I do not agree with my noble friend Lord Willis that the answer is quite obvious. I think it is a very difficult technical question as to whether one should complicate a simple scheme by an absolutely different method of selection. The Government have plumped at the request of authors, and I think with most people's agreement, for a loan-based scheme and if you are to have what is really a purchase-based scheme, which is a stock sampling scheme for a part, you have enormously complicated matters. This Bill had a great many enemies anyway, and my view is that the easiest way to get it through is to keep it simple. However, I think one should say that there are a number of public libraries, particularly the larger ones, with reference sections that include a very large number of standard works of all kinds. People are apt to consider that they are all Who's Who, et cetera, but that is not the case, and these books are held as available consultation for students and research workers—particularly, I think of current literature.

I do not believe that the multi-author books, to which the noble Lord referred will give very much trouble. To start with, they will be excluded for being multi-author, but in any case the big collections of books are much more literary, technical et cetera. In almost every case these books are available for lending also, either by another copy in the same library or by an inter-library loan. In exactly the same way, some of the technical reference books which are in the reference library are also available in what most people would regard as the non-reference loan part. There is a confusion here. Books in the reference section are not necessarily what are normally thought of as reference books. It is as well to be clear about this.

As many books in the reference section are also in the loan section, this seems to me to take something away from the authors' requirement that both of them should be allowed to claim. On the other hand the object of this Bill is to do something for authors, and if this is what authors want I do not feel inclined to be too difficult about it. It means, of course, that authors who get money through loans will get less. The ceiling is not affected and nobody has suggested that it should be. If this is what authors want, provided we can get a scheme which is satisfactory I think it is not unreasonable to look again at this point.

I think, however, that my noble friend oversimplifies the matter. To start with, it is difficult, as I have said already, to have two schemes, each of a different kind, applying to the same kind of material. Secondly, there are a number of arbitrary assumptions and I am not at all clear that they are very fair. The matter needs to be looked at very carefully. The 19 biggest reference libraries are simply assumed to have 50 per cent. of the reference books. This may or may not be right; I do not know. I find the scheme put forward by the Technical Investigation Group very much an outline scheme and not a very satisfactory one, although it seems to me that possibly it could be made satisfactory. I was hoping—but judging by my ill-success over the last Amendment perhaps I was hoping unwisely—that we could say that we thought something of this kind was desirable and would in the end be possible, but that we should leave it for nowand keep the scheme as simple as possible. I believe that by the time we have added cassettes and reference books, even only in the future, we shall have made more difficult the chances of the scheme getting through unalloyed in another place. I have already made it clear that I am wholeheartedly in favour of the scheme as a whole but I am extremely sceptical about whether including this large and different section is the right course to take at this stage. I can look at the matter again. There is a good deal more to look at again than there was over the last Amendment. It may be that one could find a scheme which is satisfactory, for I do not believe the present one is satisfactory: but it is unlikely that in the amount of time in front of us we shall be able to find one which is satisfactory. However, we may be able to do so. If, therefore, the feeling of the Committee very strongly is that this Amendment should be included I could look at it again, but there have been two or three speakers who think that it might be a mistake. I feel rather inclined to reject the Amendment but if my noble friend likes to test it through the Committee I will make no objection. It is an uncertain question and I am not sure which is the right answer. I think that our answer is the simplest and the best for the Bill, but there is virtue on the other side.


I am not quite clear what is the choice that the noble Lord put before the noble Baroness since he said at one stage that he would be prepared to take it away, although he had had a nasty surprise when he offered to do so before. On the other hand, he says that his instinct now is to reject the Amendment and test the temperature of the House, when presumably he may not have to look at it again. Before the noble Lord clarifies his position, we sympathise very much with the apprehensions of librarians in particular about being drawn into enormously complex, time-consuming, expensive and therefore counterproductive, from the authors' point of view, schemes. On the other hand, since multi-author books are to be excluded, as I understand the proposal, it will largely be a question of having to take stock, which must be taken in any case, and posting a list of all the ISBNs to the Registrar who will run them through a machine, out of which will come a very small percentage of single author books—a larger percentage in the libraries to which he alluded—books which the ordinary layman would not regard as reference books. The noble Lord slightly weakened his case there by saying that books which were available in the lending section might also be borrowed three times in one day in the non-lending section. Thus one would assume—


Surely it cannot weaken one. That is a fact, surely.


I did not suggest that it weakened the noble Lord but that it weakened his argument. I thought that the presence of what one would regard as loan books in the reference section must encourage authors to ask for this right to be extended to the reference section. If it is possible to produce a scheme which will not draw down the library services into a maelstrom of complexity, consuming yet more of the small amount available for authors, I should have thought it would be a good thing to look into, and if the noble Lord is convinced that this could be done I think that authors would welcome it and that librarians need not be alarmed. If, however, the noble Lord cannot allay their alarm, I should be doubtful about the wisdom of pursuing the Amendment.

Viscount ECCLES

May I support what my noble friend has just said. As the noble Lord, Lord Digby, has said, it is true that this would cause a very considerable amount of work, whatever scheme is introduced. You cannot do it by lending. Therefore, either it is a purchase based scheme or a stock based scheme. This raises the question whether the librarians have been adequately consulted about the work which would ensue if reference books were included. The answer to that question is that they have not been consulted, and this is very relevant to the next Amendment on the Marshalled List. At this moment we simply cannot put additional work on the public libraries unless it is a scheme which they think it is possible to operate without causing the more normal service that they render to the public to be impaired in any way. On the other hand, it is illustrative of the extraordinary "hit and miss" way that we are trying to introduce a public lending right that we should leave out reference books, especially books on how to grow, for instance, rose trees or how to cook. There are cookery and gardening books which are borrowed all the time, and it seems to be rather hard on the authors of popular cookery or gardening books that they are not able to participate. However, this is the nature of the Bill. The Minister has told us that we are lucky to have any kind of Bill at all, that £1 million had to be screwed out of his colleagues and that it does not make any sense unless there is a drastic limitation of the work. I am sorry about that but I am afraid it is true. I am inclined to say to the noble Baroness that between now and Report stage I do not think there is any time in which libraries could be consulted in order to obtain their agreement to work any form of stock or purchase scheme for reference books. However, the Minister has been good enough to say that he will look at the matter again and that the Government will keep it in mind and that if and when the definition of "books" is widened, reference books will be very high up on the list. I think, therefore, that we ought to recognise the difficulties.


I am absolutely prepared to agree with what the noble Viscount has just said. Certainly this is the Government's intention. The noble Viscount spoke of a cookery book being lent out two or three times, but that has nothing to do with it because it is a loan. If the noble Viscount means that the housewife goes in two or three times to look up how to cook, this is rather less likely but still possible. I am trying to get the feeling of the House because this is not a matter of principle but of tactics in relation to the Bill. I think that the best thing to do is to say that I will look again at this matter and see what kind of consultation with the libraries is required. A certain amount has been done but the overall scheme which has been suggested by TIG is not very expensive for the libraries. I will look again at this point without making any promise that we will do more than that. That is the best I can do at this stage.


Before the noble Baroness replies, may I say that the important thing is that when the noble Lord goes away and looks at this scheme he should try to come back with something which will not rule out the question of reference books being dealt with in the future. As the Bill is drafted, it appears that reference books are ruled out. We all know that there may be considerable difficulties, particularly with regard to the expense compared with the benefits; but it would be a very great pity if we had to go through all the hustle of another complete Bill if at any time in the future reference hooks are to be included. If some way can be found of getting round this point I think it will be useful.


While thanking the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, for his reply and explanations, in view of the fact that he has said he will review it I will withdraw the Amendment but I may return to it at Report stage. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord WILLIS moved Amendment No. 4:

Page 1, line 10, leave out (" books ") and insert (" works ")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 4.

4.51 p.m.

Viscount ECCLES moved Amendment No. 5:

Page 1, line 14, leave out (" such ")

The noble Viscount said: At present the clause reads that the Secretary of State will determine what are the classes, descriptions and categories of books which will come into the scheme in accordance with a scheme prepared by the Secretary of State, after such consultation as he thinks proper with those representing authors, local library authorities and others.

The purpose of this Amendment therefore is to remove from the Secretary of State this option to consult or not to consult authors and local authority librarians as he thinks fit and instead to make such consultation mandatory.

All that we have said on this Bill during the Second Reading debate and so far in Committee shows in what difficulties we are because we have not got the scheme. The noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, said that they were fairly sure what kind of books would be included, but that is not being absolutely sure. We do not know the details of the scheme and I am asking your Lordships to come to the rescue of authors and librarians who feel that in this situation they have a right to be consulted. It is quite common nowadays to talk about "industrial democracy". If that means anything at all, it means that those whose work or livelihood is affected by management decisions should have some right to be consulted.

If that goes for industry, where of course the trade unions are on the look out to get this right, why does it not go for a public service? In my view there is no difference between the two, and the trend of the times, with which I thoroughly agree, is that we should no longer say, We will consult you if we think it is proper to do so, but if we think you are going to make a nuisance of yourselves we will not consult you". If we had the scheme in front of us in detail I suppose the Government could say, "The time for consultation is over; take it or leave it". I should not like them to say that but I think they might. We might accept it in toto or we might not, but as the noble Lord, Lord Willis, has tabled another Amendment for an advisory committee, and this clearly envisages that the scheme being imperfect (as we know) there will be a constant stream of complaints from authors and, I hope, suggestions from librarians as to how to make it work better, we really must have the right for them to be consulted.

I must say one word on behalf of the libraries. They are the essential people. It is how they work this scheme that will determine the proportion of the costs to that amount of money which is left for distribution to the authors. They really must be consulted all the time. We have just mentioned that they might be asked to operate some form of stock scheme for reference books; this will take up the time of librarians to a certain extent. It is a bad moment in the history of public libraries to put more duties on them, because their budgets are being curtailed.

I assure the Government that the Library Association as a whole is against public lending right in principle, and has said so. We are for it in principle, but in the world in which we live we have to carry with us the people who are dubious about the whole scheme but without whose co-operation it will not work at all. I should like to suggest that to leave out these words will not affect the Government at all, because they know they cannot get a scheme off the ground if the authors and librarians have not been properly consulted. It offends them that it should be put into the Bill merely that the advisers to the Ministers say, "All right, it will not do any harm; have them round tomorrow afternoon". I do not think it would hurt the Government in any way to take these words out and to give a little industrial democracy to the public library service.


Before the noble Viscount sits down, I should like to ask him a question with regard to the case he has put forward. Do I take it that it is a matter of the general principle, apart from textbooks, and that he is speaking as an ex-Minister for education and science in the other place? Or is he taking it that they ought to be taken into consultation over the whole gamut of authorship? If that is the case, I am afraid he is on the wrong track and the scheme will break down and will be a complete failure.

Viscount ECCLES

As an experienced Parliamentarian, I am sure the noble Lord knows that it means consultation with the bodies which represent authors or librarians. That is really all we are asking for; we are not asking that the Secretary of State shall be obliged to consult every author. No one would want that. I am bound to say that I am more concerned with the libraries, because I am an author and I do not expect to be consulted; but I expect that the public library system—that is, the County Councils Association and the Association of Municipal Corporations, who are the library authorities of the land —have a right to be consulted, and I think that is quite reasonable in modern times. I beg to move.


I believe there is a great deal in this Amendment. That is clear, since I have an Amendment later about an advisory committee and therefore I am all for consultation. I should like to echo strongly the words of the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, about librarians and our public libraries. One of the things that distresses me about the public lending right campaign is the suggestion that authors and librarians are at variance about it. Of course, we are at variance on certain issues connected with public lending right, but in all the discussions I have had there has never been anything less than a civilised discussion and debate which reflects the very high standards of our librarians and their dedication to the public service of lending books. I think we have a superb library service which is staffed superbly well and the less burden we can put upon it, the better. Having said that, I think it is a corollary that one should consult them as much as possible in the development of any possible scheme; a slight adjustment of these words will strengthen it and I hope the Government will feel able to accept this Amendment.


I should like to support my noble friend Lord Willis on this point. When I was president of the Library Association this division between authors and librarians was already prominent and active, but in every other way one's relations with librarians are extremely good. I believe they will need rather careful treatment. It is not impossible. They are rational and literate people; curiously enough, they do like books. I believe the Amendment proposed by the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, and the noble Lord, Lord Elton, is perfectly sensible and cannot possibly do any harm.


Your Lordships will be surprised to hear that I think it is perfectly sensible and cannot possibly do any harm. I think that the desire to protect the Secretary of State from rigid rules is understandable and desirable, but I think that he has absolutely got to do this consultation. I do not think it will hurt him to have it put fairly strongly. But I do not think the Amendment as it stands will quite do, because it leaves others rather vague. After speaking fairly frankly to the Committee, perhaps noble Lords will allow me to bring back a version of this Amendment on Report which perhaps will go some way towards narrowing others. I do not mind the Secretary of State being obliged to consult the librarians and authors, but when it comes to others, we must be careful to say who he is obliged to consult, so this will not do as it is. If the noble Viscount will let me have another look at it, I will do so.

Viscount ECCLES

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge. He is on to a good point about others, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord WILLIS moved Amendment No. 8:

Page 1, line 22, leave out (" books ") and insert (" works ").

Lord IRONSIDEmoved Amendment No. 9:

Page 1, line 23, leave out (" person") and insert (" persons (if any)").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is of a rather different character from previous Amendments. It concerns something which involves a question of whether single authors or multi-authorship is recognised. So far as I can see, it is necessary to bring this subsection into line with the wording of Clause 4(3), which provides for the register to be conclusive in respect of a particular book title "and also as to the persons (if any) who are for the time being entitled to the right." This is very similar wording to Clause 1(4) which we are looking at now, in which the Registrar is charged with maintaining a register to show the book titles and the person entitled to the right in respect of any registered book.

There seems to be an anomaly therefore in the Bill, as Clause 1(4) refers only to the entry in the register of one person, or a person, as author or titleholder, yet Clause 4(3) clearly admits to persons, if any, as titleholders.

The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, when referring to the Registrar during the Second Reading debate, at column 1414 of Hansard clearly drew attention to the fact that the Registrar's duties would be to establish and maintain a register of persons entitled to public lending right…".

The noble Lord used the word "persons" and not the phrase "people entitled" or "those entitled". Later on in the Second Reading debate, the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, said, at column 1464, that it was the Government's intention that the scheme would apply initially only to books by single authors. So clearly, the Government are thinking in terms of joint authors and titleholders and therefore it would appear that Clause 1(4) should be amended as I proposed.


The noble Lord, Lord lronside, has got on to a rather subtle point. In the first place, in English grammar, and particularly in legal English grammar, it is agreed that the plural includes the singular, and the singular embraces the plural, so I think we have a choice here. But I do agree with the noble Lord that it is the same in both, so that as far as that goes what he has said is very helpful.

Clause 1 requires the Registrar to establish the register to show the books in respect of which public lending right subsists, and the person who is entitled. Thus, there will always be a person listed. Clause 4(3) makes a quite different provision. It makes clear that the register shall be conclusive as to whether or not the public lending right subsists in a particular book. If a book is not on the register, the register is conclusive that public lending right does not subsist. If it is on the register, similarly the register is conclusive that the right subsists and it names the holder. In this provision, the "if any" qualification arises because the register is conclusive on two opposing counts, so I think we have to leave it as it is, but alter "person" to "persons", or "persons" to person". With the permission of the noble Lord, Lord Ironside, I shall have to take a look at that to see which is better.


After what the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, has said, I am inclined to accept the position. It is a very technical point and a somewhat difficult one to understand unless one afterwards reads carefully in Hansard what has been said. I will accept for the moment what the noble Lord has said, and will be happy to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord WILLIS moved Amendment No. 10:

Page 1, line 24, leave out ("book") and insert ("work").

Lord WILLIS moved Amendment No. 11:

Page 2, line 1, leave out ("book") and insert ("work").

Lord WILLIS moved Amendment No. 12

Page 2, line 6, leave out ("book") and insert ("work").

Lord WILLIS moved Amendment No. 13:

Page 2, line 8, leave out ("book") and insert ("work").

Lord WILLIS moved Amendment No. 14:

Page 2, line 9, leave out ("book's") and insert ("work's").

Lord WILLIS moved Amendment No. 15:

Page 2, line 15, leave out ("transmissable by assignment or assignation") and insert ("incapable of assignment except").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is of a slightly different character, and is really a question of protecting the authors after we have granted them this public lending right. There are a large number of authors who need no such protection, but my own past experience in many fields as an author is that there are far too many people who are "out for grabs" for whatever royalties or other earnings an author may get. If any of your Lordships have the misfortune to have a play produced in South America, for example, I can tell your Lordships that, after you have paid the Government tax, the Authors' Society tax and your South American agent's fee, the Literary Society fee and the export tax, you are lucky if you come away with about 10 per cent. —which, of course, your English agent then takes, and you end up with nothing. There are far too many people in that position.

The principal problem is that of the young, keen, enthusiastic author, who wants to have his novel published. As your Lordships will know, there are some people who are idiotic enough—luckily, only a few—even to pay people to publish their poems. What we really want to do is to prevent the young, enthusiastic author, desperate to get his novel published at all costs, giving away his birthright to a greedy publisher; I will not say an unscrupulous publisher. I am sure that the majority of big and established publishers will recognise that the public lending right is and was intended for authors, and will not try to take anything away from them. But, inevitably, there will be others who will try to take some share of public lending right. There have been some noises in this direction, some suggestions that publishers should not be left out. Publishers do have problems, but that is not the object and purpose of this Bill.

We are suggesting that the right should be incapable of assignment, so that whatever pressures are put on the young author I have depicted to the Committee, he can say "I can't do it. Legally I cannot give you the money; public lending right must be mine; it must be paid to me". The Registrar can say, "I cannot pay it to a publisher; I must pay it to the author". That is the question involved here. I know the argument against is that, if you give somebody a right, that person should have the right, so to speak, to dispose of that right in whatever way he thinks fit. But I think if your Lordships examine English law in any depth you will see that we go to great lengths in many cases to protect people against the sale of their rights.

One has only to study the doorstep legislation that we have introduced from time to time. The housewife has a perfect right to buy from a doorstep salesman a defective washing machine on very bad terms if she wishes to do so, but we have laid it down very carefully that there are restrictions on the salesman being able to take advantage of the enthusiastic housewife. What I am suggesting in this Amendment is that we should lay down something simple in the Bill which would prevent unscrupulous or greedy publishers taking advantage of authors. Twisting the words round a little, it is so that the rights should be incapable of assignment except by a Will or by the general operation of the law as it concerns personal or movable property. So we simply keep the snouts of greedy agents out of the bowl. I beg to move.


I am not sure that the noble Lord, Lord Willis, carries me, at any rate, all the way with him on this Amendment. He is trying to extend the protection of Parliament almost excessively to the author. I rather question whether the manner in which he has engineered this extension is in any case the simplest. I would think that the insertion of the words, … except to a person who is the publisher of the work", or "book", as the case may be, would probably be an easier formula than treating the right, so far as I follow him in his argument, as though it were a kitchen clock or a bicycle, i.e, a chattel, a thing. I do not want to delay the Committee at this point, but I thought it might be useful for the noble Lord to know that it does seem to me that this is going a little further than we would think wise at first blush.


I should like to support my noble friend Lord Elton. I have been following what the noble Lord, Lord Willis, has said, and I would agree that his basic principle is right; that is, to try to protect authors where possible. But, of course, authors are free to negotiate as they like with their publishers and vice versa. What I really do not understand here is how authors can be protected by the last paragraph of his Amendment, where we would try to afford special treatment where other countries give reciprocal rights. In my view, the only way reciprocal rights can be guaranteed is through international agreement.


I think the noble Lord has skipped an Amendment and is dealing with No. 16.


I apologise to the Committee.


It is, of course, perfectly true that some authors fear that they may come under pressure from publishers to assign some or all of their new public lending right to them under contractual arrangements for book publication. So far as I am concerned, I should like to make it perfectly clear that I hope nothing of the sort will happen. We must, and I think we can—I am choosing my words carefully —rely on publishers not to put improper pressure on authors. I am sure the publishers recognise, along with everyone else, that the public lending right is being established at public expense for the benefit of authors alone. If an author wants to assign the rights in a particular book once it is established, that is, and I think must be, his business, and the Government would not interfere. But there must be no pressure. If there is, I am sure individual authors can look to their associations to help, and this seems to me exactly what authors' associations should give their attention to, among other things.

The Amendment, in any case, is a blunt instrument, in that it would prevent an author assigning a right to anyone, including his wife and family. There are examples in the social security field where payments to individuals are regarded as being for personal benefit only and they may not be assigned. But we have to be very certain that this is what we want in this case. The Amendment would impose a major check on the individual's freedom of action, and I am not convinced that it is either necessary or desirable. We should, I think, resolve that the spirit of this new legislation should be respected. If there are some abuses, I expect the authors' organisations to be well able to deal with them. If it became a major problem we could think again. I hope my noble friend will not find it necessary to press this Amendment.


I should like to thank the Minister very much indeed for those very strong words, which is exactly what I hoped he would say to the publishers. In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.15 p.m.

Lord WILLIS moved Amendment No. 16:

Page 2, line 19, at end insert— (" (d) to be exercisable only by persons who—

  1. (i) are citizens of the United Kingdom; or
  2. (ii) have been ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom for such period as may be prescribed; or
  3. (iii) are citizens of such other country as may be prescribed on the ground that such country affords substantial reciprocity of treatment to authors who are citizens of the United Kingdom.")

The noble Lord said: This is one of the two or three Amendments that I regard as of very great importance, because I think to some extent it goes to the heart of a very important part of the Bill. What it proposes is that we should exclude overseas authors where there is no reciprocal agreement on public lending right with their country of residence or nationality. The list of those countries which have a public lending right but have not any reciprocal agreement with us—not only with us but with any other countries—is quite substantial. They are Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, Australia and Holland. The only exception to date is West Germany, which does have a reciprocal public lending right, the difference being that theirs was introduced into their Parliament under a copyright Act; ours is not. Ours establishes a completely new right. Therefore, there is a basic problem here which I think can be resolved. My noble friend Lord Strabolgi, in the debate on the Second Reading of this Bill, said that the international copyright Conventions do require that such rights as public lending right, for example, are not denied to citizens of other signatory countries. I do not believe that this applies to us because we are not introducing the right under the Copyright Act; we are introducing a new right. Clearly, if we are introducing a new right and not referring to copyright, we are not bound by inter- national copyright Conventions. I should like the Minister to comment on that point, which seems to me a very valid and strong one.

Further, I should like him to comment on this. Even if it were established that we are bound by international copyright Conventions and therefore have to give a reciprocal right, there is, surely, in the Copyright Act 1956, Part V, Section 35, a perfect lever for us to get out of paying public lending right to countries which will not make a reciprocal agreement. In other words, I believe there are legal ways round it. In the first place we have the argument that we have not introduced this under copyright but as a new right. Secondly, if that fails, we can fall back on Part V of the Copyright Act 1956.

Why do I want to go to such lengths to exclude overseas authors? I have, of course, nothing against overseas authors or my international brethren. But I think it is reasonable to exclude them at this stage; the Minister, in his replies to many of the questions, has underlined the point very strongly that there is going to be very little in the kitty. To bring in powerful overseas authors, the great popular American writers, for example, and to pay them money, when there is absolutely no public lending right in America and no reciprocal agreement with America about public lending right, will mean that the great popular American authors will take a great deal of the cream out of whatever small public lending right funds we have. I am just picking the United States authors as an example; there are plenty of others, too, who will be involved.

The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, again on Second Reading, said that there is a clear limit to what can be covered all at once. This has been a recurring theme in this Bill. What we are doing here is leaving out a British translator of a Swedish book, but paying the original Swedish author some money, public lending right. We are leaving out compilers and reviewers, and so on. I understand that we have to set strict limits, but we are including within the sweep a large number of overseas authors and we are going to get nothing back.

I have books that are extensively borrowed in Australia, for example.

Australia has a public lending right. I do not get a penny for that, but Australian authors resident in this country draw money from Australia because they are Australian nationals. They will now be entitled to draw money from our libraries under the PLR scheme, while I will get nothing from my books on the shelves of the Australian libraries. That seems to me unreasonable. The Minister has argued on several occasions that we cannot spread it too wide. Here is a very simple way of not spreading it too wide. Let us accept this clause which will cut out foreign authors until we have reciprocal agreements. When we have reciprocal agreements nobody can complain. There is a way of doing it, as I have explained, and I should like the Committee to consider the arguments that I have put forward.

Viscount AMORY

I intervene merely to say that it seems to me that the arguments adduced by the noble Lord, Lord Willis, are good and are certainly persuasive to me. The fact is that the money we are talking about is expenditure from public funds. There is common ground among everybody who has spoken in this debate that the money is not going to go very far among our own authors. Therefore, on the grounds that the noble Lord has adduced, I should have thought that it would be a mistake and wholly unnecessary to go beyond the types of authors he has referred to in his Amendment here. If sterling continues to go down at the present rate whatever they get out of it will be serious for us in cross exchanges and of very little value to them. I should like to support the Amendment.


I think that the noble Lord, Lord Willis, is in danger of giving a false impression of himself in this Amendment. I am quite sure that he does not mean it, but it has undeniably a xenophobic ring. First of all, how could other countries have reciprocal arrangements with us when we have nothing with which to reciprocate, because at present we have no public lending right? I hope that the approach to this particular problem will be positive rather than negative. Every effort should be made to negotiate reciprocal arrangements with other countries, because one of the biggest assets of authors who are lucky enough to have been born British is that they write in the English language and this gives us access to far more foreign countries than if, for example, they were unlucky enough to be born a Hungarian or a Czech. So could we not so much exclude foreign authors as seek to include reciprocal agreements with as many countries as possible?


When I spoke out of turn on the last Amendment I was going to speak about these problems of reciprocal rights. I think that I am inclined to support here the noble Lord, Lord McNair, and say that we ought to be working towards getting reciprocal rights and a universal agreement on public lending right, and a positive approach to this problem would be the best thing.


Since so many views have been expressed, may I say that I think that we would all agree—and in a minute or two the noble Lord will tell us whether he agrees—that it would be foolish for us to pay out money to authors who are nationals of other countries when those countries do not pay our authors for providing a similar service to their readers. Without going too closely into the nuts and bolts of it, which I suspect that the noble Lord will wish to look at before Report stage, I think that the general principle would seem unexceptional.

5.25 p.m.


The general principle is, alas, unexceptional. It is in the reverse direction. There is no doubt whatever that the kind of exclusion which my noble friend has suggested, and which is of importance and is a biggish item which affects everybody, is incompatible with this country's obligations under the Berne and Universal Copyright Conventions. It is true that we shall not be using copyright legislation to establish PLR, but nevertheless my advice is absolutely clear; it is that the effect of the Bill is to confer a right comparable with copyright protection, and that our duty under the Conventions is unmistakable. The right must be freely available to nationals of the 85 convention countries and authors who publish in those countries, providing they register and their books are revealed by the sampling arrangements. This is indeed one of the consequences of establishing PLR by Statute, which is what the authors wanted and to which the Government agreed. In simple equity this is really as it should be.

The author, wherever he comes from, whose book is borrowed here from one of our sample libraries, deserves to be recompensed for that use. The fact that the reverse does not apply does not in any way alter the equity here. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord McNair, and the noble Lord, Lord Digby, that the right thing to do is to push ahead with negotiations. We shall do this more easily than we can now when we can show that we are paying money to foreign authors and that they are not paying money to us.

I do not think that we can go deliberately and absolutely against a legal obligation which is so completely accepted by our legal advisers. I think that it is not a starter. The noble Lord talked about Section 35 of the Copyright Act. This is a section which allows us to make complaint against a foreign Government for failing to observe copyright on our part. It has nothing to do with this matter, and it does not help us at all. I am afraid that the only thing that we can do is to carry on with our Bill where the public lending right, in spite of some rather thinning remarks by the noble Viscount, is something quite real, and which we are having to give to our neighbours and do not want to. Once we do so I think we shall be in a very much better position to negotiate with them. I could go on a good deal further but I shall not for the moment.


There seems to be a great conflict of legal advice here. I do not pretend for one moment to be a copyright lawyer or even a lawyer, but I am assured that we have protection under Part V of the Copyright Act. I am equally assured by the same lawyers that the international copyright conventions do not apply because we are introducing a different kind of right. My advice, which comes from reputable lawyers, conflicts with the noble Lord's advice.

I am sorry if this sounds like xenophobia but it is not—and I will stand on my internationalism with anybody. It is monstrous that we should pay large sums of public money to popular American authors when there is not a chance for generations of the American authors getting public lending right, and therefore no possibility of any reciprocal agreement. I do not just pick out American authors; I mean other authors of other countries. This is likely to take possibly one-fifth of the total amount of the money that we have in the kitty for authors and it seems monstrous that we cannot devise some way to stop it.

I am all for positive reciprocal agreements and my Amendment says that; it says that when we can get a reciprocal agreement, then we will open up PLR to the citizens of that particular country. I am all for that, but I do not suggest that we hand it all out now and wait for them to say, "You have been very generous: we will be generous back". There will not be public lending right in America for many years, I assure noble Lords, and the other countries will all take their time because some of them do not have it by law and they will all take their time to get amendments so that they can pay it to foreign citizens. Those amendments will have to go through their Parliaments and in the meantime great sums of money could come out of our fund. If one threw it out to all the countries under an international copyright convention one would swamp the number of British authors; one could have ten times as many people registering from overseas countries as one has from this country. It seems to me, therefore, that there is a big hole here that has to be plugged in some way by the Government. I should like the Minister to look at this matter again with his legal advisers because I am informed that there is some way of overcoming the difficulty, and I should have thought that it would be worth going into the matter further.


I am in sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Willis, and the point he is putting. This is an extremely important matter and I agree that we should try to find some way to put into practice what he is suggesting. l am not of course capable of adjudicating between what appear to be completely opposite and conflicting views on the law, but I should like to put to the Minister a point about which I am not clear. I refer to these other countries which have public lending right, which do not pay Lord Willis any royalties and which are presumably signatories of the Berne Convention. Do they not pay these royalties because they have not in every case established public lending right by statute but have established it in some other way?


The answer to that question is, Yes; they are not statutory but administrative and therefore they do not carry the same obligations.

Viscount ECCLES

I am sorry to differ from some of my noble friends, but I am with the Minister on this Amendment To dispose of the claim by the noble Lord, Lord Willis, that American authors might take a huge slice of the cake, we have not yet been told whether there is to be a cut-off limit; that is to say that no author, however sensational or sensual his book may be, however many hundreds of thousands of copies are borrowed, is to have all that he would be entitled to. I understood that it was part of the Government's policy that £500 or some such limit was to be imposed as the maximum that any one author could get while there was so little money. That will drastically change what the Americans can get.

What the Americans lend out here is pulp fiction, but, leaving that on one side, far more serious is the fact that these are conventions which we have signed and we really cannot go back on them. I would say, not only from the point of view of straightforward international good behaviour, that it would pay us not to go back on them for the reason given by one of my noble friends: namely, that English is so much more widely read than any other language. We win in the competition of exporting books in our language against importing books in other languages.

At this moment the lending division of the British Library is developing the most tremendous loan service to the whole of the Common Market. We are lending far more books to them and they pay us the proper rate so that we get out with a tiny profit—it is a profit, though nothing really that one can see—and this is going on all the time. Looking forward, one must hope that our having joined the Common Market and other forms of international association will lead to free trade in books and reciprocity in copyright and all the other rights. If it does, who will win? This country will win hand over fist. We should not deny ourselves the instrument by which we can go to other countries and say, "We are good fellows. We are sticking to the convention. You will get £2.20 "—that is about all that anybody will ever get—"look how generous we are. We are going to stick to this". That is something to use in arguing, but if we were to say that we are going to introduce a public lending right here but we are not going to give it to anybody else, how, for example, will Lord Willis ever get it out of Australia? He will have set such a bad example here that he will not have a hope. I therefore hope that the Amendment will not be accepted.


I am not saying that. I am saying quite specifically that if we give it to Australia we expect Australia to give it back. Australia cannot say, "You are destroying all the international agreements" because they do not pay us a penny out of their public lending right now. Once we get our public lending right established then naturally we will go to Sweden, Australia and these other countries and say, "Let us make it reciprocal" and I have no doubt that they will. That seems perfectly reasonable and I cannot think of any country in the world that would say that we were welshing on our international agreements because we were not paying their authors out of our public fund. I cannot think of one.


I am grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, who put my side of the case very well. It might perhaps be better if I were to elaborate a little on the legal side because my advice is such that I really cannot ignore it. So far as I am concerned, the answer is, No. We as a signatory are bound by the Brussels text 1948 of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works 1886 and also by the Paris 1971 text of the Universal Copyright Convention. The obligations demanded of signatories by these two conventions boil down to two. The first is giving the same treatment to works of Convention nationals and to works first published in Convention countries as is given under domestic law to the works of British authors—the national treatment principle. That is absolutely unavoidable and it is a perfectly clear statement. The second is providing protection without formalities for Berne countries and within limited formalities allowed for UCC countries. The United Kingdom is in copyright relationship with 85 countries under these Conventions.

Although our public lending right will be established by new legislation and not by extention of the copyright legislation, advice from the Department of Trade, recently confirmed, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is that since the effect would be to confer on authors a legal entitlement to remuneration for the use of works protected under the Conventions, it would be regarded abroad as tantamount to copyright protection. Thus, our obligations under the Conventions would be held to apply. This means that the new right would have to extend to all foreign authors who were either nationals of one of the 85 signatory countries or whose works were first published in one of those countries; and care would have to be taken not to build into the scheme formalities with which it would be difficult to comply in those countries. In view of the rule about first publication, there is little point in trying to distinguish between Convention and non-Convention countries at this stage, though it may be appropriate later. I could say a lot more, but I think that the number one obligation which I quoted cannot he got round. On that basis I could not accept the Amendment and I do not believe that anybody standing in my position could do so.


Did I hear my noble friend refer to 1851?


I referred to 1886.


It was 1886 when the Convention was arrived at. Surely we are in a position in which we can enter into negotiation with all these other countries. Also—and I say this to my noble friend quite kindly—is it not true that as a Party we have always advocated reciprocity? A simple example is the Health Service. My noble friend has been citing America and what happens there. Yet we have American visitors who come to this country. Just the other week, a woman staying at my hotel happened to have an accident while walking along the pavement. She received free health treatment, but there is no reciprocity so far as America is concerned, and a friend of hers told me that if she had had to be attended to in America it would have cost numerous dollars to pay for the attention which she received free in this country. We have reciprocity with other countries in regard to the Health Service, so why cannot Her Majesty's Government give serious consideration to this question of reciprocity if we believe that that is our purpose and our policy? It seems to me that that was at the back of the mind of my noble friend Lord Willis when he moved the Amendment.


I have already said that the future of this lies in working for reciprocity but one cannot put that into a Bill applying only to this country. We cannot insist on reciprocity; we can only negotiate for it. I have already said that, when we are operating the Bill and treating our neighbours in a way which my noble friend quite rightly feels is generous, we shall be in a very much better position to make them respond. But we cannot legislate for what America does, or anybody else. On the other hand, I agree with my noble friend if that is all he is saying; the next step is to work hard to develop reciprocity.


I recognise the difficulty of the law on the conventions, but I do not agree with the point that has been made that if we are generous in this respect it will make it easier for us to negotiate and to obtain reciprocal terms. My experience in life is that when people are given something they are not likely to feel that the giver is in a very strong bargaining position because they already have what they want. I believe that this is such a serious matter that I shall return to it at Report stage having taken further legal advice. I would ask the Minister whether he will once again check to see if there is any way of achieving this.


Yes, of course I will.


In that case, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.44 p.m.

Lord IRONSIDE moved Amendment No. 17:

Page 2, line 19, at end insert— (8) The Registrar shall have power to withhold payment of any sums due to the person for the time being entitled to Public Lending Right in respect of any registered book, if at that time he has reasonable grounds for believing that the registered book has infringed or is alleged to have infringed the rights of a title holder in copyright as defined in the Copyright Act 1956.

The noble Lord said: This Amendment involves another case of the possibility of unfair payments and it is designed to cover a situation in which the Registrar might find himself placed in respect of a book which qualified for PLR payments whereas the registered author had infringed, or was alleged to have infringed, a copyright. I believe that in such circumstances it would be wrong to make payments. The intention of the Bill is to reimburse authors of original works, as I said before, and the Registrar should not be seen to be reimbursing anybody who, without licence from the copyright holder, has made an adaptation or translation, for example, referred to in Section 2(5) of the Copyright Act 1956. Noble Lords may well argue that this is not possible or that such a situation is unlikely, but what is likely is that copyright infringement actions may well arise following the publication of any material in this country. Subsequent litigation may take a long time to reach a conclusion, as we have heard earlier this afternoon, in which case PLR payments could have been made during that period. The Government may say that the scheme will take care of this situation, but I should like to know how the House can be assured of this. This may be a technical point and I shall be very interested to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, has to say about it. I feel that it would be fair to authors to provide for this situation in the Bill itself so that the fund, which, as the House realises, will be under extreme pressure in any case, will not be abused. I beg to move.


I wonder whether this proposed subsection is wise. Surely, infringement of copyright is a matter to be decided by the court after hearing the evidence and arguments on both sides. I cannot believe that the Registrar, on an ex parte application and not hearing both sides—not hearing the arguments nor the evidence tested by cross-examination—would be at all anxious to come to a conclusion. He might well come to the wrong conclusion and, with the best will in the world, he might withhold payment to an author because he thought, on the balance of probabilities, that there was infringement of copyright. Subsequently, the case might come before a court and might be lost, it being decided that there had not been an infringement of copyright. In that case, the Registrar would have been withholding payments wrongfully. I should have thought it much better not to have this subsection and to leave disputes about infringement of copyright to be decided by the courts.


I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, for saying with his legal expertise what I was going to say as a layman. That is in fact the case. The trouble is that the noble Lord's Amendment would impose on the Registrar a responsibility which he would be unlikely to discharge effectively and for which there is already adequate provision in the copyright legislation. The Registrar will of course have to satisfy himself at registration stage that an applicant author is who he claims to be and that he wrote the book in question. He will not enter on the register any application with which he is not satisfied. So far, there is a safeguard. The registration procedure will be spelt out in full in the scheme and there will probably be provision for a sworn affidavit and other supporting testimony. This will enable the Registrar to establish that the applicant is the author but not what is the position in respect of the copyright of the book. That could be quite different. Sections 17 and 18 of the Copyright Act 1956 provide that infringements of copyright are, as the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, said, actionable at the suit of the copyright owner and the Performing Right Tribunal may be used to deal with disputes. However, this is in the last resort and the matter would normally go first to the courts.

It would not be appropriate for the Registrar to be involved in any way in a dispute of this kind, in our opinion. For example, no great harm would happen if by chance an infringing book should attract PLR payments because most pirated books are unauthorised reprints in the original author's name, so that the PLR payments would still go to that author. The other main forms of copyright abuse—unauthorised translations and compilations —would not in any case count for PLR, since it is proposed to exclude transactions and compilations from the initial scheme. When and if, at a later date, they are included, the matter might have to be looked at again. The noble Lord has raised an interesting point, but after going into it carefully, I am satisfied that it is not a valid one. I hope I have also satisfied the noble Lord.


After hearing what the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, had to say and after listening to the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, I am happy to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 1, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?


Not having been here for the whole of the Second Reading, before we pass this clause I should like the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, to make one point quite clear, particularly now that we have changed the word "books" to the word "works". Can he tell me whether the word "author" includes composers?


I must take advice on this point because it involves a legal definition. I should have thought that it did, but I will have to look at it. The phraseology is altered by the Amendment of my noble friend, and we shall need to look at various points with this in view.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2 [The Central Fund]:

5.50 p.m.

Lord CULLEN of ASHBOURNE moved Amendment No. 18:

Page 2, line 26, leave out from ("Fund") to end of line 31.

The noble Lord said: This is a probing Amendment which seeks to elicit from the Minister whether or not the Government really mean business. If the Government do mean business, it is surely extraordinary to limit to £1 million the sum of money to be paid into the Central Fund when the TIG has calculated that more than 40 per cent. will be required for administering the scheme. This cost of over £400,000 is at today's prices. Heaven knows what it will be by the time the Scheme is in operation!

To set so low a limit in comparison with the cost of administering the scheme seems to be a most unfortunate feature of the Bill. I am fully aware that the level of Government expenditure is far too high, but if the Government seriously intend that a substantially higher sum should be made available for this purpose in two or three years' time—or perhaps in only 20 weeks, as the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, suggested was possible—could not the Minister give some idea of the likely level?

It seems that what we are being asked to consider is an initial sum which is totally inadequate except for a pilot operation, and which will infuriate authors by the distribution of trifling sums, together with a moral commitment to a much larger sum, of undisclosed amount, at some time in the future, whatever may be the level of Government expenditure or the state of the national economy. I hope that it is not too uncharitable to suggest that, having set up the pilot operation, the Secretary of State may slow-time his deliberations until the financial climate is healthier and he thinks there is a reasonable chance of obtaining approval for £5 million, or whatever may be the figure that he has in mind. Only a great optimist would think that such an improvement in the economy is likely within 20 weeks, and few would expect it within two or three years.

Cannot the Government make a more robust approach towards their avowed intention of establishing a public lending right, so that it really means something to authors? Will they not tell us what sum they really think is necessary for this purpose? And will they not remove this £1 million limit which so sadly shackles the Bill? I am tempted to mention the old Marx Brothers film in which Groucho Marx was asked: "Are you a man or a mouse?" Groucho replied: "Put a bit of cheese on the floor and you'll soon see".

So metaphorically I am placing a hit of cheese on the floor of your Lordships' Committee. I beg to move.


I was trying to think of a suitable Groucho reply, but I am afraid that I have failed for the moment. I remember how he found out that there were four refugees in the cabin. On being asked: "How do you know that?", he replied: "Because they are singing Sweet Adeleine '", but that has nothing to do with the point in question.

The noble Lord, Lord Cullen, spoke of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, as an optimist. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, is a great optimist, and we cannot base our financial calculations on his wishes any more than we can on your Lordships' wishes or mine. The noble Lord spoke of the £1 million as being an unfortunate feature. It is a most unfortunate feature of this country at this moment that we are in very serious trouble for money, but that we have succeeded in getting something so near to a promise of £1 million within reasonable distance is not unfortunate; we are very lucky to have it. Those people who think the establishment of the principle of a public lending right to be the important thing, or the first step to take, must realise that of course everybody would rather have had £10 million, £15 million, £20 million, or whatever figure one wishes. It is not a starter, and if it were to come off the rest of the Arts I might have something to say about that.

I do not think that this is a practical point of view. Of course I shall not give an undertaking that the Government, of which I am a very humble member, will in due course give a great deal more. The answer is, No. I hope they do, but of course I shall give no such undertaking. The noble Lord did not really expect that of me. I think that the cheese was rather hard. In any case, we must have a figure. It would be inconsistent, with Parliamentary control of public funds, to leave an open-ended liability to the discretion of the Secretary of State, and the sum named must be dependent on the current constraints, but the financial provisions of the Bill are a matter for decision in another place.

Therefore I shall not attempt to discuss the size of the limit more than I have done, because in the end this is something which, when on Third Reading I move the privilege Amendment, we pass over to the other place, as is quite correct. When we can name an appointed day, which will mean that the funds of £1 million or thereabouts are in sight, then will be the moment when we can look at all these things. We can look at how quickly we can appoint the Registrar, what other research might be undertaken, and so on. But until that happens we can do very little. What I am perfectly happy to undertake at this stage is that my Department will continue to work on the scheme, and we will draw up a draft scheme so that if the Registrar is appointed reasonably soon lie will have something to go on; if he is appointed after a longer time he will have more to go on. But I do not believe that we can anticipate spending research money until we see money in the kitty.

I am afraid I am not being very helpful; this is not a subject on which I can be very helpful. The decision of the Government was that the demand for this right to be established justified a Bill of this kind, which is really an enabling Bill rather than anything else. I believe that most Members of this Committee think that this is right. Everybody wants more, and I am being asked for more in all directions. But in principle I think that your Lordships want to see a Bill of this kind go through and are prepared to accept the limitations which the financial position has put on the Government. I wish to repeat that I am not giving any assurance that any Government—this Government, the next one, or the one after that—will necessarily give more money.


I do not think that that was the question which the noble Lord was asked. The point is not that the Government are necessarily going to give more money, but that it should not be written into the Bill that they may not give more money. We accept that there is virtually no money now, but we have been told that here is a Bill which allows disbursement of up to £1 million, of which, it now appears, possibly more than 50 per cent. will be spent on administration, which as the Amendment next following of the noble Lord, Lord Digby, shows that to be something which does not appear logical to us. The noble Lord has sniffed round the cheese, bitten it once, squeaked very loudly, and appealed to the conventions of this place, which means that the cheese has to be eaten in another place. I hesitate to mix metaphors too graphically, but I think that it must be a Cheshire cheese analogous to the Cheshire cat. If the noble Lord leaves this limit as a permanent lid, which can be lifted only by Amendment, by legislation, it means coming back to Parliament to get the thing off the ground at all. That is the point. Then, I think on the face of the cat, we shall see little more than the smile of benevolence, and no claws with which to do anything.


Clause 3(7) allows the scheme to be varied from time to time by the Secretary of State after the consultation which has been very properly insisted on, and the variation brought into force by an order in a statutory instrument, subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament. The intention here, as I understand it, is that if Parliament decided to grant more money, then this would be the way in which more money could be granted. The limit is written into the Bill until something else happens.


I do not quite follow the noble Lord in this example, because in the Bill we have the limit of £1 million, and the Bill also says that there can be a scheme. It does not say that the scheme can change the Bill; it merely says that Parliament or the Secretary of State, or whoever, may change the scheme at a later date, not the Bill. It is in the Bill that the limit appears. I do not think it is necessary at this stage, to hold up the Committee for a long time on this point, but I think it should be on the record that we recognise that, while there is a shortage of funds now, with inflation going at the present rate and with administrative expenses rising as they doubtless are, there very soon will be no point in having the Bill if this lid is kept on top of it.


I repeat that my understanding is that Clause 3(7) leaves this open to expansion, but I will write to the noble Lord if by any chance I am wrong.


It would make the matter perfectly clear if the £1 million mentioned in Clause 2(2) were expressed to be subject to Clause 3(7). That would make it quite clear that the £1 million written into the Bill could be varied by Statutory Instrument. We shall be very pleased to see that Amendment to the Bill at the next stage.


My noble friend has just found the right clause for me. Clause 2(3) says: With the consent of the Treasury, the Secretary of State may from time to time by order in a statutory instrument increase the limit on the sums to be paid…". I think that answers the noble Lord.


I do not want to delay the Committee, but it is a question of whether it increases the individual sums or the total of the sums. I am sure the noble Lord is right, but let us look at it.


I would prefer that.


I am grateful to the noble Lord. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.3 p.m.

Lord DIGBY moved Amendment No. 19:

Page 3, line 3, at end insert— Provided that the provisions of this subsection shall not come into force until the Secretary of State is satisfied that in the ensuing financial year the estimated expenses falling within paragraph (b) of this subsection for the purpose of administering the scheme referred to in section 1(2) above do not exceed one tenth of the money provided by Parliament in accordance with subsection (2) of this section and, until he is so satisfied, the money so provided shall be paid to the Arts Council of Great Britain for distribution in a manner to be prescribed by him for the benefit of authors.".

The noble Lord said: I am not asking for more money—although I should like it—but for its better use. I beg to move Amendment No. 19 on the Marshalled List. It is rather long, and I should like to summarise the intended effect. It is that, until the expenses are less than 10 per cent. of the money available, that money shall be distributed back to authors by the Arts Council. This Amendment seeks to avoid the considerable expense and administrative effects—the increase in public service manpower involved in this Bill—until the costs are reasonable compared with the benefits derived by the authors. At the same time, it would mean that the full amount, or nearly the full amount, of the money available would accrue to authors from the coming into force of the Bill. Above all, the principle of a public lending right enshrined in this Bill would be established, which I believe is a prime object of authors.

My argument is based on common sense: that to spend £400,000 or more to provide £600,000 or less is a nonsense. I think this common sense argument can be challenged on the grounds that establishing the principle is worth the disproportionate cost, or that justice and common sense demand that a large sum of money be provided. I think my Amendment covers both these objections. The principle is established because the Bill comes into effect; and if more money is made available, then this Amendment would have no effect. I am suggesting 10 per cent. as a reasonable proportion for expenses, but I am not wedded to that figure. If, say, 20 per cent. would be more acceptable to your Lordships, I certainly would not dissent; but I think that more than 20 per cent. on expenses is really entirely unacceptable.

I am also suggesting that the Arts Council should be the body to distribute the money available, and that they will do it with fairness and economy; but if this Amendment is accepted I hope that the Arts Council will set up a special committee to deal with this, with a very strong representation of authors, possibly even a majority of authors. At a time when public expenditure is under extreme restraint and libraries are having to reduce their book purchases, librarians and ratepayers resent such a large proportion being spent on expenses. I wish to establish the principle, postpone the expense and get some benefit to authors at the earliest moment. I beg to move.


As chairman of the Arts Council, perhaps I might be allowed to give your Lordships my personal reaction to this proposal, but before I do so may I add my congratulations to the Minister on his appointment to his new post. May I also say that, having known him very well for a very long time, and knowing his interest in and knowledge of the arts, I look forward with a quite rare degree of pleasure to working with him in that sphere. My personal reaction—and I stress that it is personal, because I have had no opportunity to discuss this proposal with my colleagues, having had no foreknowledge of it—is that it confuses the public lending right with straight support for literature. The last thing I want to do on behalf of authors is to look a gift horse in the mouth, and I appreciate very much the motives which inspire the noble Lord's proposal; but I think it confuses these two things, which are quite separate, as in fact I pointed out on the two occasions that I have had the privilege to address your Lordships' House on the public lending right, both when the noble Lord, Lord Willis, introduced his Bill last summer and on the Second Reading of this Bill.

The meaning of this proposal, I think, is that until there is enough money to bring administrative expenses into a proper relation—in this case, 10 per cent. is suggested as the total—the Arts Council should do the work instead of the libraries, the Registrar and the rest of it. If the Arts Council were to do it properly, administering it as a public lending right, then of course we should have to set up a very substantial organisation ourselves, and I doubt if very much money, if any, would be saved. If, on the other hand, we are simply to administer £1 million for the benefit of authors who in our opinion write literature, as opposed to the great majority of authors, who of course do not write literature, then it is something quite different, and I do not think that is what the Arts Council is for, although we are very glad and ready to help in any way we can. Therefore, an extra £1 million for literature is certainly not something that I would spurn, and if the noble Lord has any proposal which will extract for the Arts Council an extra £1 million for authors who write literature, I shall be very glad to support him in it; but I do not think that this Amendment has that object in mind. I think it simply involves the Arts Council instead of the Registrar and the libraries, and would therefore not save any money.

Viscount AMORY

When I spoke just now, the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, said that he could not have agreed less with everything I said. I am now, in a thoroughly Christian mood, going to add my congratulations to Lord Donaldson on his well-earned appointment. I have a great deal of sympathy with the aims of this Bill, but I think it is a terrible Bill. It is the worst kind of enabling Bill, it seems to me. The scheme, which is a central feature of it, has still to be concocted. By common agreement, the initial sum of £1 million is going to prove inadequate. The administration involves an immense amount of detailed work, high in relation to the receipts that are going to be obtained by authors. I prophesy that the expenses of administration will prove to be a great deal higher even than is indicated here. I have never written a book and I have no intention of doing so. When this Bill came along I got a copy of it because I thought that perhaps I was wrong and that it would be a good idea to start writing some books as soon as possible; but having done my sums and looked at the £1 million I have decided that the, to me, great effort in doing so will not be worth while.

I prophesy that this will prove to be a bad Bill as it stands and will require much amendment as time goes by. I think that that has been acknowledged and I understand that it has been received just for the sake of getting a foot in the door, so to speak. I am far from asking for more than £1 million in the present economic circumstances and I was delighted to hear Lord Donaldson say that it had been a Herculean task to get £1 million from the Treasury. That warmed my heart. It proved that those great public servants who operate that Department still have sonic grip on the situation and that the Treasury Ministers are not wholly neglecting their responsibilities.

I may have wandered a little, but I want to say that I sympathise with the object of my noble friend's Amendment. He says in effect: "Do not set up this elaborate and expensive new organisation while the estimated cost of administration is anything like 40 per cent. of the total sum available. "That seems to me to be a sensible approach. Whether it is possible to find other ways of administrating it in its early stages, I do not know. I agree with the sentiment that my noble friend has expressed and I shall look forward to hearing what Lord Donaldson is going to say.


May I say how deeply moved and heartened I am to hear the statement by the noble Viscount that he is not going to write a book. I think that he is the only person in the two Houses whom I know is not. I am quite sure that my noble friend the Minister is keeping a diary. I should like to oppose this Amendment. I think it would be retrograde in the way it would operate. Of course, the figure of something like £400,000 out of £1 million for administration is monstrous. Looked at in that way, it is likely to shock anybody; it shocked me. On the other hand, it is true that if you run irrigation pipes from a lake over miles of territory it will be very expensive; but once you have got the pipes laid then you are able to water more than one field. This is the point with the cost of administration here. I ask the Committee to reject this Amendment.


I am grateful to those noble Lords who have spoken. One understands what is in the noble Lord's mind; but the effect would be simply that of negativing the Bill. What lie is really saying is that if you cannot get more money, then do not do it at all. I do not think that this is the view in this House nor—and we shall find this out —that of the other place. It is certainly not the view of the general public, though it may be the view of certain members of the public.

I think that we must reject this Amendment. The noble Lord says: "Distribute the money until…". What money? The money can be distributed only if the elaborate machinery is set up for finding out to whom it goes. That is what costs the money. That will distribute far more than £1 million; it could distribute £100 million quite easily, once you have it. But you cannot distribute any money for much less. Although I should be delighted to support any suggestion for giving the Arts Council more money to give to those authors that they choose to support, this is not what the Bill is about. The Bill is about a right. I do not think that I need say more. I think that the feeling of the Committee is against the noble Lord's Amendment and I hope he will withdraw it.


It may surprise the noble Lord to know that I do not intend to impose the extra expense of another Voting List being printed. This Amendment was put down really to demonstrate the futility of the Bill. I repeat my assertion that common sense says that it is ridiculous to pay such a high price. I was trying to find a way of keeping the principle without the cost. We all know that this is difficult, if not impossible; and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 2 shall stand part of the Bill?


A brief word of explanation from the Minister will suffice to enlighten me on one point; and that is, the reason for the difference in phraseology about the source of the funds. Clause 2(4) says that the funds for the general administration of the Bill are to be brought from the Central Fund, while paragraph 2 of the Schedule says that the source of the salary of the Registrar is to be money provided by Parliament.


Perhaps I may answer that immediately. The reason is simply that it is thought improper for the Registrar to pay his own salary.


I am obliged.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [Tire scheme and its administration.]:

6.18 p.m.

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 20:

Page 3, line 19, leave out from beginning to (" into") and insert— (" 3.—(1) Within twelve months of this Act coming").

The noble Lord said: At Second Reading there was a good deal of talk about the "two to three years" when the scheme eventually gets under way. As the Bill is drafted, this period could extend to the "seven years to seventeen years". I thought that this was a fitting time for the Government to tell us what timetable they intend to adhere to.


I hope that the Committee will not feel it necessary to shackle my right honourable friend in the way suggested. There has to be some allowance for good faith in this. I think the Government have shown imagination. Some people think they have shown too much imagination in bringing this Bill as far as it has got. I think the idea that it should be allowed to die through inanition is one that we must reject. We cannot saddle the Secretary of State with a date. I will now make some general remarks about the position, and I shall be hurt if in due course I am held to them in a serious way. Looking at it logically, I can give no date for the appointed day. This seems to me to be a financial matter which in the end is for the Government as a whole to decide with particular reference to the Treasury. Before that day, as I have already said, my Department will work on the scheme. As soon as an appointed day is made known to us, however far ahead it may be, we shall be able to take steps to employ a Registrar and do some of the research work necessary to get the scheme fully worked out. I should have thought that the dangerous delay is the delay before we get the appointed day at all; in other words, the financial delay. This must be so. If things go a little better and we can get that within reasonable time, then if the preliminary work has been done on the scheme—or most of it, or even some of it—then it should be a matter of months rather than years before something fairly definite could be used for consultation.

Noble Lords have insisted—not improperly—on extensive consultation. This must take some months. So that will take more months. Then it has to go through Parliament and then one might see something happen. I have not committed myself or my colleagues very far. I should have thought that this was not too depressing a prospect, except for the first stage over which I have no control, and over which I will give no advice. I do not know whether that is helpful, but it is about the best that I can do. I should like to repeat that it will be my duty on Third Reading to propose the Privilege Amendment which protects us in relation to our position with the other place.


It was not our intention to shackle the Minister with an instruction. I am glad that we have now saddled him with an aspiration. We may not hold him to it, but we shall encourage him to pursue it. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.22 p.m.

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 21:

Page 3, line 24, after ("House") insert ("or is so approved with an amendment or amendments to which both Houses have agreed").

The noble Lord said: We come now to what I regard as one of the more fundamental Amendments to this Bill. I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 21 and 22 together. At Second Reading my noble friend Lord Eccles and others referred to this as an enabling Bill. The phrase has been repeated since many times in this stage. It is a Bill which enables the Secretary of State to draw up a scheme to administer a sum which is initially limited to £1 million per annum, and although the Minister has firmly kept that lid on we are all aware that he shares the apprehension—or aspiration—that it will eventually be raised. It is a sum intended to benefit the authors of books on loan from certain sections of certain types of public libraries. If we look at the Bill more closely we find that the scheme by which this is to be done is to include provision for a register of books qualifying for payment or, as the Bill would have it, books in which public lending right subsists. That register is to be kept by the Registrar.

The Registrar is appointed by the Secretary of State to determine, upon criteria handed down by the Secretary of State, both who is an author and what is a book. He is also to determine, again on criteria handed down by the Secretary of State, how many times a book may be presumed to have been borrowed. The Secretary of State, in framing the scheme, will determine upon what evidence that presumption is to be founded. He will decide both the character and the volume of evidence necessary. At present, I must add, we have no certain knowledge of either of those aspects of evidence. We only know that the Technical Investigation Group examined a scheme based on 72 sample libraries, and that the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, said on Second Reading on 5th April, at column 1412 of Hansard: If a sample of 72 library service points, as considered by the Technical Group, is adopted, the annual cost of administering a loans-based scheme is estimated at about £400,000".

Most of us were so dazzled by the figure of £400,000 that we did not notice the all important word "if" until we read Hansard.

So the Secretary of State is to impose upon the Registrar, whom he is himself to appoint by the means of the scheme which he is to draw up, the number and nature of qualifying authors; the nature of qualifying books; the volume and character of evidence upon which he is to estimate the presumptive number of loans; the basis of the division between them of such spoils as remains after the deduction of administrative costs; the means of determining what are and what are not admissible as administrative costs; the nature of the evidence which he may specify as necessary to establish ownership of the right to payment; the nature of the evidence by which assignment or inheritance of that right is established; and, indeed, the method and duration of time by which the right to unclaimed payments may be deemed to be void, and the means by which such payments are subsequently returned to the fund and redistributed.

It is clear from Second Reading that no one expects the maximum content of this fund—I have said this already to remain at only £1 million, and I was interested to hear the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, say at Second Reading on 5th April, at column 1410 of Hansard, that: It is in any case essential to provide for proper control by Parliament of the use of public funds".

Here is no control by Parliament at all. It merely has the power under Clause 3(2), as it stands, to say "Yea" or "Nay" to any scheme dreamed up by any Secretary of State of any Party, and if it says "Yea" it may well do so in the knowledge that to say "Nay" would be to deprive authors yet longer of their just reward.

I turn now to the effects of these Amendments. They are to enable each House of Parliament to examine, criticise, and, if they see fit, amend the scheme when at last it sees the light of day. The process by which Amendments of each House are to be accommodated to those of the other, should they be different, is deliberately omitted. I have an alternative Amendment to hand which specifies this. But it is cumbrous, restrictive and necessarily describes in detail what is in effect the process by which Amendments to Bills are harmonised between this House and another place. The advantage of the Amendments before the House at present is that they enable the usual channels to set up a joint standing committee to reach agreement in the event of disagreement. This is the scheme proposed by my noble friend Lord Eccles. In the light of his wisdom, the advice of the Table and my own understanding, I am confident that it is acceptable, or at least workable.

Finally, may I say that it establishes no new principle. It follows a perfectly respectable and practicable precedent, that of the Government of Burma Act 1935, Section 157(1). I will, if the Committee wishes, return to the Box to specify what would be envisaged as the sequence of events if it was necessary to harmonise the amendments to a draft scheme proposed in another place. But the alternative to this is to have a draft which, like a Statutory Instrument, cannot be amended in either House, and therefore one either takes it or leaves it, and if one leaves it one may leave it for a very long time. This is a sensitive issue because it is a skeleton Bill, an enabling Bill, one which may appeal to Governments as being a nice way of ducking out of precise legislation, legislating in fact by delegation. When Parliamentary pressures are so great, and pressure of business is so great in both Houses, there is great temptation to delegate as much work as may be in order to lighten the Parliamentary load. There is therefore a danger that this Amendment may show a means by which such legislation (which we should like to reduce, because there is too much legislation anyway) might be more attractive because it would be seen as a means of enabling more business to be done by the House; the bulk of the resultant work would be off-loaded on to somebody else's shoulders.

If that is the case, then the answer is simple: remove this Amendment, after we have inserted it, and put in its place the scheme which at present is not in the Bill and which we are not able to discuss because it has not been presented to us. It seems that these are the two alternatives: either Parliament discusses the scheme as a whole with the Bill, or it has a right of amending the scheme submitted by a Secretary of State after taking advice in a form which does not limit it to the Statutory Instrument procedure which excludes the possibility of amendment. I beg to move.

Viscount ECCLES

I should like to support my noble friend. We have heard from the Minister more than once that he is going to work with his Department on getting out a scheme. We have also heard indications that it may be a considerable period before the scheme comes before Parliament. My noble friend has referred to a large number of points on which we are ignorant today as to exactly how this right, if it is a right, is to be claimed. For instance, as regards the entitlement, we do not know whether or not there is to be a cut-off point at a low level. If the figure is to be £4 or £5, then I suppose, roughly speaking, the average expenses would be about £5 per author. I do not think that another place would agree that public money should be handed out to authors in such small sums that the cost of handing it out is greater than the sum involved. It is not for us to deal with this here. My noble friend and I have had experience on finance Bills in another place, and I am perfectly sure that there would be objections to a scheme where the cost of distribution would be more than the author would receive. So this really implies that nothing is to be paid below £5 or £10. Similarly, we do not know whether or not there is to be an upper limit. This point was referred to earlier in connection with the American novelist. We do not know about these things.

Certainly it is quite true that the Minister has said that he will consult with authors' and libraries' representatives in the working out of the scheme from now onwards, because there are so many things still to be settled. But, after all, Parliament is responsible for seeing that the scheme, when put into operation, is as fair as it can be made, and for seeing, particularly, that the public money involved is being spent in a sensible manner. Unless this scheme is amendable, we shall have the simple choice of either accepting it as it is or throwing it out. I am quite positive that that is not in the best interests of authors; nor do I think it would be fair to librarians, because we ought to try to help them to get some improvements made.

Now I come to the point on which I am sure the Government will rely in trying to reject the Amendment. They will say that it is unconstitutional and that they do not like what we have proposed; but, as my noble friend has already pointed out, there are formidable precedents for amending delegated legislation. But I do not think there can ever have been a precedent for such a disgraceful Bill, in the sense that it is only a framework and Parliament is left knowing nothing at all about how rough the justice will be as between one author and another. We do not even know how the sample is to be arranged. That is very important. Many people in the library world believe that by sampling only 72 libraries it is not possible to get a method of calculating the assessment which the authors could possibly accept. We should like to have the chance to look at all those things.

I hope the noble Lord the Minister will be able to accept either this Amendment or another one which does what this one is intended to do; in other words, to make it possible for both Houses of Parliament, where there are many authors and many Members representing local authorities who are very anxious about the effect on the public library service of the scheme we are discussing. I think we should give them a chance to amend the scheme, and therefore I hope that the noble Lord the Minister will accept either this Amendment or another one which has the same effect.


This is a very grave Amendment so far as I am concerned. I do not think I can accept it; nor do I think I ought to. On the other hand, I can see the intention behind it and, as usual, noble Lords opposite are less than wholly unreasonable in what they are suggesting. We have a system of running Parliament, and it would be a marked departure from modern practice to amend subordinate legislation, and particularly to put in a Bill in advance. There would have to be very special grounds for such a departure and this could have major implications for all future legislation. A good deal of legislation is carried on in this subordinate way, which is a convenience for everybody. However, it seems to me that if there is something wrong with this system —and who am I, who have never sat in the other place to hold a view?— it should be dealt with after due consideration by a properly appointed body to look at constitutional practice and not be suddenly dealt with in a Bill of this kind.

I am afraid that my attitude is absolutely clear. I have no intention of accepting this Amendment—not because I think it would be undesirable for the two Houses of Parliament to discuss these points in detail before they are presented to them, but because of the constitutional position which the noble Viscount said he knew would be the Government's defence, as indeed it is. In fact, I do not think this measure is likely to give rise to the difficulties which such special treatment would necessitate.

I accept that there may be points in the draft scheme which will not suit everyone, but we must remember two things. First, there will be full consultation on the preparation of the scheme. Noble Lords have insisted on what might be described as "mandatory consultation" in connection with a clause we discussed earlier. There will be full consultation, as I say, on the preparation of the scheme, and there will be ample opportunity for the people most affected to put forward their views, which will be very carefully examined. If either House is not satisfied with the principles laid down in the scheme, it can reject it and ask the Secretary of State to think again. This has been the long-established procedure of both Houses and I do not consider that the nature of any changes of detail that might be sought in this scheme could possible warrant such a major departure from it. I hope, therefore, that noble Lords will not find it necessary to press this Amendment, but I must say that my hope is a rather slender one.

There has been reference to the 1935 Act, which separated India and Burma and gave each of them a Constitution. That Act is not really a true analogy. It has 478 sections and 16 Schedules, and it occupies 430 of the 1076 pages of the Law Reports edition of the Statutes enacted in 1935. It is a far stretch to make this analogy and, though the noble Viscount is capable of stretching a long way, I think this is a little too far. In the ordinary way, if a draft order or other instrument is not approved, the Government amend it and submit a fresh draft to Parliament. The suggestion that this cannot be discussed is not true. It will be discussed in full and the reasons for rejecting it will be given in full. The Government will have to think again and produce something else. This is not a final and arbitrary thing; it is a detailed opportunity to discuss something. I really do not understand the intensity of feeling which has been evinced over this, to me, rather technical point.

The comparison between this and the 1935 Act will not do. The formula which was used in connection with the 1935 Act did not enable Parliament to amend orders made under the Act in the way in which Bills are amended. The short answer to the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, and the noble Lord, Lord Elton, is that if the scheme, in the opinion of either House, is substantially defective in any respect, that House will not approve the scheme and the Government will have to submit a fresh scheme with the defects removed.

If he takes the point that the two Houses will not be able to insist on the removal of minor defects without prejudicing the establishment of the whole scheme, the answer is that one of the main purposes of dealing with a matter by subordinate, as distinct from primary, legislation is to keep matters of detail away from Parliament; or, if you prefer to look at it in a slightly different way, to save Parliament the trouble of having to look at points of detail. I know that noble Lords, particularly the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, feel very strongly about this point but I am afraid that I can yield not at all.


The noble Lord has been performing this afternoon as if he had been Minister for the Arts for years and I congratulate him, but I have not been entirely convinced by what he has just said. He was good enough to say to my noble friend below the gangway, as I understood him, that the reasons underlying his Amendment were not unreasonable, and then he proceeded to say that in spite of that he was not going to do anything about it and, anyway, nothing needed to be done. It seemed a little contradictory.

As I understand it, the Government have produced a Bill which is just a framework, and when the Minister feels like it he can put some flesh on the skeleton and then bring it to the House and we have either to take it or leave it. That is not what usually happens under subordinate legislation. Subordinate legislation usually operates under an Act which is clearly defined. In this case, everything is left to the subordinate legislation and what will happen when it comes to this House is that we shall either have to take it or not get anything. So from that point of view it is quite different from the usual subordinate legislation which we have to take in this House. If the noble Lord does not like the proposal of my noble friend behind me and if, as I understood him to say, what we are seeking is not totally unreasonable, then if he is not prepared to accept this Amendment will be give an undertaking that he will devise some other way, which will quieten the fears of those of us on this side who are not happy with his proposals?


My only qualification for intervening, and so far I have failed to interrupt the proceedings, is not that I have had five books published by various publishers, but that I am just as confused as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, appeared to be, at the observations which came from the Minister's lips. It is largely a matter of procedure. Not very long ago we had an acute controversy in your Lordships' House which derived from some turbulence in the newspaper industry, and the suggestion was made by one of my noble friends that in order to avoid further turbulence there should be provided a charter, which would result from consultation between the newspaper publishers and the journalists' profession. Eventually, the idea of a charter was accepted but that charter would derive only from consultation, from a scheme that would be somewhat lacking in specification and very much the framework that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has referred to in connection with this proposed legislation.

It seems to me that the real defect of this Bill—I do not want to indulge in a Second Reading speech, particularly because I have so far failed to say anything about it—is that it is an enabling Bill, a framework of legislation. But nothing has been said, except in the course of some observations arising from proposed Amendments, about a scheme that would emerge as a result of consultation between the Secretary of State of whatever Government exists, the publishers, the authors and the members of local authorities who are responsible for the supervision of public libraries. That kind of scheme I could understand, because it would mean the provision of regulations that were consequent upon the consultations that took place from time to time.

Regulations are a fundamental, inevitable and essential part of much of our legislation. Almost 50 per cent. of the legislation that passes through another place and eventually through your Lordships' House is legislation of a delegated character which means regulations, and regulations mean orders and orders mean Statutory Instruments, and Statutory Instruments enable the House at any time it should so decide to propose either—it depends on the character of the legislation —an Affirmative Resolution or a Negative Resolution. If there had been such a Bill and a scheme as a result of consultation, with no specific reference to the sum to be apportioned among the authors by those responsible—the local authorities or whoever it happens to be—then the scheme would have eventually produced something in the nature of proposals and the Government might or might not have accepted it. But if the Government should decide at some stage under such a Bill to make a proposition—say £1 million or £5 million to be apportioned—and some objection was raised to it, or it was not regarded as sufficiently adequate by authors or other people concerned with the legislation, then an Affirmative Resolution or a Negative Resolution could be moved; and that is precisely what ought to be done in this case.

If I had my way, I would abolish the Bill at once and produce something in the nature of what I have just suggested—a framework of a Bill, an enabling Bill, but one that provides for consultation and a scheme as a result of consultation, and delegated legislation and a right, which is possessed by another place and by your Lordships' House, to propose one type of Resolution or another—Affirmative or Negative. That should have been done. May I take the opportunity of congratulating the Minister on his elevation. He has been dealing with a very turbulent situation in Northern Ireland, and it now looks as if he will be involved in another turbulent situation. But my advice to him, from my experience of procedure in another place and of what has happened to enabling Bills and the like which have come before us from time to time, is that he should give the matter further consideration—not accept the Amendment, because even the Amendment is a little vacuous; there is a vacuum in it. I would not accept the Amendment, but I would not reject it out of hand. My advice to him is to say: "I will give the matter consideration and will take this back." It is obvious that there is a great deal of opposition to the nature of the Bill, to its provisions and to what its consequences are likely to be. So in the circumstances, I suggest that he should take my advice.


I am grateful to my noble friend, first for his congratulations, and secondly for his advice, which I do not find it entirely easy to accept fully. I wonder whether it would be helpful if we agreed that the Government should publish a Consultative Document in advance of the scheme, so that everybody could discuss it without having to discuss it in Parliament, and so that the scheme, when it came out, would have had the advantage of everybody's view. I should be perfectly prepared to do this and I see no objection to it. One will have to do something very much like it in the consultations we are to have with the interested parties, and I can see no reason why such a document should not be published for everybody to comment on. That is as far as I can go. I hope that my noble friend will think that this is partly taking his advice. Also I hope very much that noble Lords will feel that they can accept this suggestion. If noble Lords believe that this system of legislation is wrong, I do not think we should try to put it right in this Bill. There should be a more official and constitutional way of altering this syetem of legislation. I hope that noble Lords will be able to accept that offer.


Before we reach a conclusion, would the noble Lord tell the Committee what the Government intend to do with the Consultative Document? Is the Consultative Document to be debated in Parliament? Would it then be withdrawn and a draft scheme drawn up in the light of the Parliamentary criticisms of both Houses?


No; that is not the normal drill, is it? The Consultative Document will be available to anybody who wishes to make comments; and if political Parties wished to make comments, of course they could. It would be in the form of a Green Paper, or something of that kind.


But presumably there would be no objection to debating the Consultative Document if it was put before the House?


No; the objection would come only through the usual channels.


In the light of the noble Lord's suggestion, may I say with some hesitation that I think we should come back to this at Report stage. What the noble Lord has said does not alter the constitutional situation. It gives an opportunity to ventilate doubts, grievances and injustices, and that is one of the objects that we are seeking. The noble Lord has not excluded their ventilation in Parliament and that is something we are seeking, but what he has not done is to give Parliamentary right to amendment of the scheme itself. At this stage I am reluctant to withdraw the Amendment, but in the light of the noble Lord's own almost equally pessimistic undertaking to reconsider, I think that it would be churlish of me not to do so. Therefore, I think that is what we should do. However, I must tell the noble Lord now that at first glance I do not find myself entirely satisfied with what is, none the less, a new idea. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.43 p.m.

Lord IRONSIDE moved Amendment No. 23:

Page 3, line 30, after ("on") insert ("registration").

The noble Lord said: There are two matters which are referred to in the subsection. One is the entitlement to the right and the other is the extent of the right. Entitlement depends upon registration. Earlier this afternoon the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, made it very clear that entitlement definitely depends on what is contained in the register. As I read this clause, entitlement does not depend on loans or on the scheme that is used to sample loans. The wording of this subsection is very technical and on the whole it is very difficult to understand its true meaning. The clause needs explanation. Whatever else is said in the clause, the Amendment makes it clear that entitlement depends upon registration. I beg to move.


The noble Lord is perfectly right. Entitlement does depend on registration, which is dealt with in Clause 1(7)(a). The purpose of this subsection is not to define what entitlement depends on; it is to describe the nature of the scheme and how it will provide for authors' entitlement to payments. Therefore, it is not relevant to refer again to this question. I do not think that there is any difference between us. The facts as stated are in Clause 1(7)(a)—that the right depends on registration. The description of how it works is in Clause 3(3). I do not believe that there is anything to go for here. I do not know whether I have explained the situation to the noble Lord in a way which satisfies him, but I do not feel inclined to accept the Amendment as it stands.


The noble Lord has explained the situation fairly clearly. It is a very difficult situation to understand and I think that the Committee is probably surprised that this kind of wording is used to cover this particular point concerning the scheme. However, I accept what the noble Lord has said and beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord WILLIS moved Amendment No. 24:

Page 3, line 36, leave out ("books") and insert ("works").

Lord DIGBY moved Amendment No. 25:

Page 3, line 37, after ("the") insert ("general").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 25 which has the effect of defining libraries as ones which lend to the general public. My reason for adding the word "general" is to find out the Government's attitude to school libraries. Most library authorities are also education authorities, and efficiency and economy dictate that the expertise and resources of the library service are often used to help the schools. In some counties all the school libraries are integrated with the public library service. I believe that the Government do not intend that school libraries should be included, and I hope that this Amendment will make it quite clear. In Wiltshire, however, the same book stock is used for public and school libraries. I hope that the Government will consider how these kind of cases will be dealt with under the Bill and that they will accept this Amendment, as I am sure they intend the Bill to apply to lending to the general public and not to particular groups. I beg to move.


The noble Lord is making a valid point, although it is not a valid Amendment. In the first place, this particular clause defines "library" for the purposes of the Bill. Therefore, inserting the word "general" before the word "public" does not materially affect the definition. The term "the public" is in common use in legislation. I understand that the noble Lord's intention is to safeguard the provision by public libraries of books in bulk for use in schools, which is, of course, very important. A number of schools, instead of having their own libraries, use books in bulk from public libraries. It is the Government's intention to protect from public lending right the bulk use by schools of books from public libraries, and this will be covered in the scheme; but there is no place for putting it in the Bill and I do not believe that the addition of the word "general" would make any difference. However, the point is taken and will be dealt with in due course.


That certainly answers part of my question; but there is, as I said, an instance in Wiltshire where the same book stock is used for public and school libraries. The book stock is not lent out in bulk to the libraries which then operate a library service. They are integrated rather more and I think that there will be problems. I do not know whether the Minister would be prepared to look at this a little more in the light of the very complicated and different forms of the library service?


I am quite prepared to go on record as saying that there will be problems of definition here which will have to be sorted out in the scheme, but I do not think it will be appropriate to deal with this in the Bill. If the noble Lord would like me to say more than that I will do so. I think he has a perfectly valid point, but this is not the place to deal with it.


Is this not exactly the kind of thing that will be included in the Green Paper?




I thank the Minister for that answer and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord WILLIS moved Amendments Nos. 28, 29 and 30 en bloc:

Page 4, line 2, leave out ("books") and insert ("works")

line 3, leave out ("books") and insert ("works")

line 4, leave out ("books") and insert ("works").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move these Amendments en bloc.

7.2 p.m.

Lord ELTON moved Amendment No. 31:

Page 4, line 9, leave out from ("as") to ("expenditure") in line 10 and insert ("will reimburse them for any").

The noble Lord said: There is a certain unease among the county councils on this area and the Amendment is designed to seek clarification. It is intended to ensure that all additional expenditure incurred by authorities shall be reimbursed, including, for example, the possibility of redundancy payments if the initial work involved in the sampling machinery creates a need for the temporary employment of additional staff, for the labelling procedures, who later have to be dismissed. Having regard to current financial and manpower restraints on local authorities the Association of County Councils in particular attaches great importance to the undertaking of the Government that no expenditure in relation to this Bill shall fall on local authorities. I hope this Amendment at least provides an opportunity for them to go clearly on record in this respect. I beg to move.

Viscount AMORY

I support strongly what my noble friend Lord Elton has just said. Local authorities have had much bitter experience in this field as a result of Parliamentary legislation which has been passed and which has in fact thrown heavy additional responsibility on the local authorities, generally with little reference during the passage of the legislation to the additional expenditure which would fall on local authorities and which almost invariably under-estimated the amount of that expenditure. I hope very much that the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, will be able to agree with what my noble friend Lord Elton has said, and will give a clear undertaking to local authorities that they will be compensated for all additional expenditure falling on them as a result of this Bill. I am the more hopeful about that because in the Second Reading debate I think the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, raised this question and the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, said he could give the assurance that no additional expenditure would fall on the local authority. Therefore I am hopeful that the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, will be able to give a satisfactory reply to my noble friend Lord Elton.


I think I can satisfy both noble Lords. The intention of the Government is perfectly clear, that in carrying out this scheme there should be no loss to the local authorities or the local libraries. I would rather look at the wording again than accept this Amendment, if the noble Lord is happy with that, because he knows the difficulties of drafting. The intention is clear. I hope on those terms the noble Lord will withdraw the Amendment.


I am most grateful for that undertaking and I look forward at Report stage to seeing the noble Lord's doubtless superior version of the Amendment. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 4 [The Register]:

Lord WILLIS moved Amendments Nos. 32, 33, 34, and 35 en bloc:

Page 4, line 22, leave out ("books") and insert ("works")

line 25, leave out ("book") and insert ("work")

line 26, leave out ("books") and insert ("works")

line 30, leave out ("book") and insert ("work").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendments Nos. 32, 33, 34 and 35, which are in identical terms.

Lord IRONSIDE moved Amendment No. 36:

Page 4, line 33, leave out ("and amended") and insert ("amended and deleted").

The noble Lord said: In this clause I am not clear as to whether the words used in subsection (4) will allow an author or a title holder at his own wish to apply to have his entry deleted. There are a number of reasons why he might wish to do this, and I will mention some of them. He might be a successful and highly taxed author who wishes to see the Fund bring more benefit to the less well off author on the register; he might be elderly and wish to lessen the value of his estate upon his death; he might become wealthy, and in the event of the wealth tax he might wish to lessen his commitment in that respect, and as a title holder he might not take any interest in the scheme and wish to forgo payments. If, therefore, the clause is amended in this respect, to include deletions specifically, I think it could bring nothing but benefit to other authors and title holders.

I note that in Clause 4(5), which is the following subsection, the Registrar may remove entries from the register if there has been no movement on an account for ten years. I think that is probably right and proper, but I also feel that an author should be able, if he so wishes, to de-register voluntarily. I think this Amendment would allow him to do that if the clause as now drafted for the proposed scheme does not permit such a transaction. I hope the Government will look sympathetically at this Amendment. I beg to move.


Once again I think this is a perfectly sensible Amendment. In my view it is desirable that authors should be able to de-register if they want to. I am not clear whether this Amendment is the right way to do it, nor am I clear whether this possibility appears somewhere else; in the time available I have not been able to find the right answer. I hope the noble Lord will leave it that we agree that authors should be able to get off the register of their own will, and at the Report stage we will suggest how this should be done.


I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, for indicating to the Committee his intentions. I think authors will probably benefit from being able to do this. In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord WILLIS moved Amendments Nos. 37 and 38:

Page 4, line 36, leave out (" book ") and insert (" work ")

line 39, leave out (" book ") and insert (" work ")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendments Nos. 37 and 38.

Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.

Lord WILLIS had given Notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 39:

After Clause 4, insert the following new clause:

Public Lending Right Advisory Committee

  1. " 4.—(1) There shall be established an Advisory Committee to be called the Public Lending Right Advisory Committee (in this Act referred to as "the Advisory Committee").
  2. (2) Subject to the provisions of subsection (5) of this section, the Advisory Committee shall consist of not less than ten and not more than fifteen members, who shall be appointed by the Secretary of State.
  3. (3) Of the members of the Advisory Committee, the Secretary of State shall appoint one to be Chairman and one to be deputy chairman of the Advisory Committee.
  4. (4) In appointing persons to be members of the Advisory Committee, the Secretary of State shall have regard to the need for securing that a 96 majority of members are authors or representatives of authors' associations and that there are members who are able to represent the views of local authorities, public librarians and publishers.
  5. (5) The Secretary of State may by order increase the maximum number of members of the Advisory Committee to such number as he may think fit.
  6. (6) It shall be the duty of the Advisory Committee to keep under review the operation of any scheme made under this Act and to make recommendations to the Secretary of State as to any action which in the opinion of the Advisory Committee it would be expedient for the Secretary of State to take under the powers conferred on him by this Act.
  7. (7) It shall be the duty of the Registrar to provide the Advisory Committee, if it should so request, with information about the administration of any scheme made under this Act.
  8. (8) The provisions of Schedule (Public Lending Right Advisory Committee) to this Act shall have effect with respect to the Advisory Committee."

The noble Lord said: I should like to speak to this Amendment and also to Amendment No. 43, which is a new Schedule. In view of what the Minister has so kindly said about consultation, and particularly because of the valuable suggestion that there should be a Consultative Document, I do not intend to move either of these Amendments.

Clause 5 [Citations, etc.]:

7.10 p.m.

Lord ELTON had given Notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 41:

Page 6, line 3, after (" force ") insert (" within twelve months of its passing ").

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to this Amendment; in fact it falls with Amendment No. 20. I merely intervene at this point to say that if the wickets continue to fall at this rate, the ground will be needed for another match rather sooner than expected. I congratulate the Committee on its speedy progress, and I do not move this Amendment.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Schedule agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with the Amendments.