§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether, following legal advice they have secured, they will make a statement on the action they propose to take against local authorities which have withdrawn News International newspapers from public libraries.
§ The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Belstead)
Enquiries made by my right honourable friend the Minister for the Arts have shown that five authorities against which complaints have been made have never imposed or have now lifted a ban, 13 are maintaining a ban and two have not yet replied. He is not satisfied. He therefore proposes to take the first step in the formal exercise of his default powers under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. He has instructed his officials to write on his behalf to the 15 authorities from which he has not yet received satisfactory replies, The letter clarifies the legal position, advises all authorities which are or may be in breach of the law to reconsider their position and requests the relevant documentary evidence. I am placing the text of the letter in the Library of the House.