§ Mr. David Atkinson
asked the Under-Secretary of State answering in respect of the Arts what is the current public expenditure on public libraries; and if he has any plans to introduce legislation to privatise them.
§ Mr. Waldegrave
The Government's plans for expenditure by local authorities on public libraries in England in 1983–84 assumed an allocation of £287.3 million for current and capital expenditure on this service. Recognising, however, that it will take some local authorities longer to adjust their spending to the levels the Government consider desirable, the overall plans for local authority expenditure included a margin unallocated to particular services. Evidence suggests that actual expenditure on libraries will exceed the service allocation in 1983–84.
While my noble Friend the Minister for the Arts welcomes co-operation between individual authorities and commercial organisations which might be of mutual benefit in promoting or supporting the public library service, there are no plans to introduce legislation to privatise public libraries.