HC Deb 01 March 1915 vol 70 cc576-7W

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in view of the readiness with which this House has voted all the money asked for the purposes of the War and the evidence of wealth afforded by the continued consumption of luxuries, whether there is real necessity for withdrawing the annual Grants to public libraries which are for many the only available opening to culture; and, having regard to the unique circumstances of Ireland and the full and constant use being made of the National Library in Dublin, whether the Grant to that institution at least will be allowed to continue?


Provision is being made in the Estimates for the continuance of a portion of the normal Grant to the National Library in Dublin in order to provide for the purchase of new parts of books already ordered and for other urgent needs. As regards the general question referred to, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer to a similar question by the hon. Member for South Donegal which is circulated with the Votes to-day.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the stoppage of all Grants towards libraries, art galleries, and museums for the coming year is in contemplation; whether the exact total of the Grants affected by such action is about £100,000; and whether, having regard to the fact that the War is costing these countries two millions sterling per diem, or more than £100,000 an hour, consideration will be given, before the stoppage of these Grants has been decided on, to the question as to whether it is in the public interest and consonant with the national dignity to effect a saving, comparatively so small, at the risk of the hindrance to the work of students whose means do not admit of full equipment of books and who must thus be deprived of the help afforded by the perusal in libraries of periodical literature and new books and new editions essential to keep them in touch with recent developments in the spheres of their studies despite the many assurances that, notwithstanding the War, all things would go on as usual?


A reduction of approximately £60,000 has been made in the provision for the financial year 1915–16 in respect of the usual purchase Grants to the institutions referred to by the hon. and learned Member. These Grants are mainly expended on the acquisition of pictures and objects of artistic or antiquarian interest, and in the present crisis I think it reasonable to forgo expenditure of public money for such purposes. Under the provision of Section 15 of the Copyright Act of 1914 the chief libraries of the United Kingdom receive copies of new books, and there does not appear to be any reason for anticipating that inconvenience of the nature described in the last part of the question will arise.

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