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27 Feb 2006 : Column 212W—continued


Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps Ministers in her Department are taking to encourage local authorities to give priority to libraries in making funding allocations. [53026]

Mr. Lammy: Beyond fulfilling their statutory duty to provide comprehensive and efficient services, it is for the 149 library authorities to make their own funding decisions.

Nevertheless, in recent years my Department has advocated strongly the cause of public libraries across both central and local Government. This has ranged from the publication of Framework for the Future, the first ever national public library strategy document in 2003 to, most recently, the letters I have sent to the Council Leaders of every library authority in England reminding them of the community value of public libraries and asking them to consider carefully what might be lost through closures.

We have introduced library standards to underpin core provision and, more recently, impact measures to highlight the contribution that libraries make to wider community agendas in the context of the shared priorities of central and local Government. The standards already form a part of the libraries data within the Comprehensive Performance Assessment. It is envisaged that some of the Impact Measures will be a part of that framework from 2007.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment she has made of the proposed library closures in Lancashire; and what powers she has to intervene. [53465]

Mr. Lammy: The Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 gives the Secretary of State a range of powers to intervene formally in a library authority but only where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the authority concerned is in breach of its own duty under that legislation.

Although I regret any library closure, I do not believe that Lancashire County Council's decision to close 9 of the County's 85 static libraries puts them in breach of their statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service at this stage. However, I reserve my position
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to intervene, through the proper Government channels, at some future point and my officials will watch the emerging situation in Lancashire closely.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what minimum level of facilities she expects to be available in main town centre libraries. [53466]

Mr. Lammy: Under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, library authorities are required to provide a comprehensive and efficient service. This is taken to mean that the provision, free of charge, of access for people who live, work or study in their area to borrow or refer to books, printed material and pictures in line with their needs and requirements.

Of course, DCMS wants to see a full range of appropriate facilities and services being offered to communities in public libraries. However, we believe that locally elected representatives are best placed to judge the precise needs of the communities they serve.

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) how many library authorities outsource book procurement; [54116]

(2) how many staff are employed by library authorities on book selection; and how many were so employed in 1996; [54117]

(3) when she last met the Publishers Association to discuss the pricing of books supplied to public libraries; [54118]

(4) when she expects to receive initial proposals from the Public Libraries Stock Procurement Model Development project; [54119]

(5) how many (a) library authorities and (b) library consortia supply non-standard servicing in their book purchasing. [54120]

Mr. Lammy: DCMS Ministers have not met the Publishers Association to discuss this issue. The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council has commissioned PWC to prepare options for models to improve the book supply chain for libraries and they are consulting a number of interested bodies including publishers to improve efficiency. DCMS expect to receive a report in the summer of 2006.

PWC have collected information from a sample of 50 authorities. The following information is based on that sample. 35 per cent. of library authorities use supplier selection for at least some of their stock. 10 per cent. of authorities have one or more stock procurement activities provided to them by other local library authorities.

On average, 7.6 staff per library authority are involved in some aspect of stock selection. There is a very wide range between authorities, anything from one to 37. This will be the result of a number of factors, such as size and location of library authority, systems for selection (e.g. any out-sourcing), whether done centrally or in individual branches and time spent per member of staff will vary considerably.

If 'standard processing' is considered to be that prescribed by the National Acquisitions Group ('NAG'), then the same survey suggests that 20 per cent.
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of authorities comply with NAG standards, which in turn implies that 80 per cent. of libraries employ standards that differ from those prescribed by NAG.


Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many convictions against (a) premises licence holders and (b) personal licence holders there have been under the Licensing Act 2003. [53415]

James Purnell: This information is not currently available. Court proceedings figures for 2005 will not be available from the Office for Criminal Justice Reform until the autumn of 2006.

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when the Independent Fees Review Panel is expected to reach a conclusion as to whether the maximum number of temporary event notices for which village halls can apply under the Licensing Act 2003 should remain as stated in the Act. [53893]

James Purnell: The Panel has said that they will continue to work closely with stakeholder organisations over the next few months in order that they can assemble the further information that they need to progress the next stage of their work, culminating in a Final Report in the autumn of 2006. In the meantime we are continuing discussions with the relevant stakeholders about the impact of TENs on village halls.

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what evidence the Independent Fees Review Panel has taken from (a) representatives of village halls and (b) Action with Communities in Rural England on the impact of temporary event notices. [53894]

James Purnell: As part of their Interim Review, the Independent Licensing Fees Review Panel received evidence from a number of organisations including ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), individual village halls and local authorities, on the impact of temporary event notices (TENs) on village halls and other community facilities. The Government published the Panel's Interim Report on 5 December 2005. The report identified nine areas of activity that the Panel wishes to consider further during the next stage of their work. These include the consequence of the new fees regime on not-for-profit groups and events, and TENs limits. The full Interim Report can be accessed at:

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much her Department estimates it cost local authorities to administer the new alcohol and entertainment licences required by the Licensing Act 2003. [51146]

James Purnell: In a regulatory impact assessment accompanying the fee regulations made in January 2005, the Department estimated that the costs to licensing authorities during transition and the first three years of operation of the Licensing Act 2003 would be £221 million, which would be recovered through fee income.
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An independent Licensing Fees Review Panel, chaired by Sir Les Elton, is focusing as a priority on identifying local authority licensing fee income and costs. The panel's final report will be delivered in the autumn.

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what research her Department has (a) evaluated and (b) commissioned on the effects of the Licensing Act 2003 on public houses and premises offering late night refreshments. [51147]

James Purnell: It is too early to draw any firm conclusions about the impact of the Licensing Act 2003 and I am not aware of any research on this issue which can be assessed.

I have not commissioned any research, but the Government will continue to monitor the impact of the new legislation closely, including a programme of evaluation being conducted by the Home Office into the impact of the licensing reforms on crime and disorder.

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