§ 92. Mr. Andrew Smith
asked the Minister for the Arts how many public libraries have closed in England and Wales since 1979.
§ Mr. Luce
The total number of service points in England increased from 13,948 in 1979–80 to 17,236 in 1985–86. The number of static libraries decreased from 3,638 to 3,411 over the same period. The reduction has occurred mainly in small libraries opening less than 10 hours a week, reflecting in part a general trend to replace small branches, which provided a very limited service, with mobiles and with larger branches covering a wider area. Responsibility for public libraries in Wales rests with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales.