HC Deb 19 December 1974 vol 883 cc567-8W
Mrs. Jeger

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the outcome of his discussion with the British Library Board about the future siting of the British Library.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

The Government have been considering, together with the Board of the British Library, how further progress can best be made towards a solution of the library's longstanding and increasingly pressing needs for a headquarters with sufficient accommodation for its readers, staff, collections and services, while recognising that the intention expressed by past Governments of both parties to use the land adjoining the British Museum in Bloomsbury would involve the kind of large-scale redevelopment and disturbance towards which public attitudes have much changed.

A site on former railway land fronting on Euston Road and immediately to the west of St. Pancras Station has recently become available. It is less than a mile from the Bloomsbury site and well provided with communications. The London Borough of Camden has indicated that use of the Euston site for the library would be in accord with its policies for the development of this area. This site is now being urgenly examined in detail by the Government and the library. Provided that the outcome of this examination is that the site can effectively accom- modate the library, notwithstanding that the preference of the library remains for the Bloomsbury site, the Government will authorise detailed design work so that construction of new buildings, limited initially to a first phase, can be begun on the Euston Road site in 1979–80, subject to determination of an actual starting date in the light of the economic conditions prevailing nearer the time.