§ Mr. Worthington
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the budget for libraries in cash and constant price terms for 1996–97 and 1997–98; what consequences this will have for the provision of services; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Ancram
Each education and library board receives a block grant and decides on the resources which the library service should be given having regard to the Government's priorities. The budget for libraries in 199697 is £25.139 million and the boards will submit their proposals for 1997–98 expenditure to the Department for approval by 31 January.
In its announcement on funding for the education service, the Government have made it clear that they intend that schools, and the classroom in particular, should continue to receive priority, but in giving priority to the classroom some reductions in provision are assumed for the library service which may include a cut equivalent to £1.9 million or 50 per cent. of the budget for book purchasing for public libraries compared with 1996–97. However, the precise effect on the library service cannot be measured until the budget figures have been agreed.