Westminster Hall debate on libraries

My thanks to the Unison public services trade union for sending a transcript of the Westminster Hall debate.

Lisa Nandy opened the debate by drawing attention to the £1.1 million cut in the library budget in her area, and said that nationally it was estimated that 400 libraries either have closed, or are under threat of closure. Nandy continued saying that the argument that library usage had fallen has been ‘much overstated’, drawing attention to figures that show that library usage is only 10% lower than 10 years ago, and that libraries have a 91% satisfaction rating. She also said “I urge the hon. Gentleman (Mel Stride, Con, Central Devon) to understand that libraries cost money to run and cannot simply be run by volunteers on thin air.”

Annette Brooke (Lib Dem, Mid Dorset and Poole) said if “we want to equip our children with the skills that they need for later life surely we must build on the use of libraries”. Alison McGovern (Lab, Wirral South) said that local authorities are not planning for the cuts that they are having to make, she said, “They are being forced to cut first and deal with a vision for the service after”.

Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture responded to the debate, he said that “if Labour had been re-elected, it would have got rid of the statutory library service”. He went on to say that there was “a lot of good news on libraries” and that the “death of libraries has been greatly exaggerated”.
The full transcript of the debate can be accessed by visiting the Westminster Hall debate page on the title bar of this blog.

Alan Gibbons comments:

“I am a little puzzled by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey’s assertion that “If Labour had been re-elected, it would have got rid of the statutory library service.” I have been a very strong critic of both the ConDem stewardship of libraries and the record of the preceding Labour administration but, in a debate with the then Culture Minister Margaret Hodge on Newsnight, I challenged her about precisely this issue. She reassured me on the record that there would be no attempt to repeal the 1964 Libraries Act, a statement she confirmed in a Bookseller article. I think Ed should provide some substantiating evidence if his assertion is to be credible.”

3 thoughts on “Westminster Hall debate on libraries

  1. I have just sat and listened on-line to the full debate in Westminster Hall. (It can be heard at http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=7414 )
    I heard the Minister specifically refer to the Library Modernisation Review and say ‘if Labour had been reelected they would have got rid the 1964 act’. I have a copy of this report saved on my computer (it can also be read at http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm78/7821/7821.pdf). I have just reviewed it and can find no such suggestion in the report. In contrast, as I read the report, it was being considered whether the Act should be amended to include a more specific statement of core services which local authorities must provide.

  2. Shouldn’t library closures be put on hold, libraries may be permanent, while governments are only people with a very limited life span.

    One of the most expensive parts of a decent library is the cost of new books, and they do have quite a short life generally.

    Some libraries have solved that problem by replacing expensive books with D.V.D’s, which can by regeneration last for ever.

    A good book can cost as much as eighty pounds just to have the first copies printed and bound, but perfect D.V.D copies can be made for less than one pound.

    Regarding photograph quality, it has been noticed that in the light of a computer monitor or a projector, ancient photographs are usually far better than they were originally.

    What is the point of the having the brilliant technology of modern computers, if fashion directs peoples minds to how it was yesterday.” rather than “How it could be tomorrow.”.

  3. Pingback: Philip Pullman’s call to defend libraries resounds around web

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *