Mr. Robert G. Hughes
To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if she will make a statement on contracting out in public libraries. 
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
Following consultation with a wide range of interested parties on the report commissioned by my Department from KPMG on contracting out in the public library service, which was published following my previous written answer on 19 July 1995,Official Report, columns 1457–58, my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Wales and I have decided for the present not to introduce competitive tendering in the public library service on a compulsory basis. However, we believe that the public library service should be encouraged to continue to improve its management and effectiveness by involving the private sector more. We intend to explore, over the coming months, how this can best be done and to set out our proposals in detail later in the year.