Reproduced with thanks to the Library Campaign:
Until the official transcript of this morning’s Culture Media and Sport Select Committee session with the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt, appears, here’s a version in note form put together by reviewing the live television stream. Note that we were incorrect to tweet during the session that Hunt had said that the Isle of Wight and Somerset court cases were due to report before the end of the month; he said that it was Gloucestershire and Somerset. Nevertheless, Brent campaigners will be surprised to hear this, as they believe their Court of Appeal case will come first.
Hunt was asked three questions by the committee, all by the chair.
Q: How does he understand the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act requirement for a comprehensive and efficient service?
A: Original definition of comprehensive and efficient in Roberts Report of 1959. Comprehensive = good selection of books, when books more expensive, efficient = reducing no of authorities. He takes responsibilities seriously, modernisation yes, vandalism no. Has had extensive discussions and engagement with Brent, Lewisham, Somerset, Gloucestershire and IoW about their programmes, not appropriate to comment in detail on individual cases as judicial reviews in progress, Somerset and Glos this month, Brent from Court of Appeal next. 151 library authorities, 140 are modernising, dealing with cuts without large library closure programmes. What we are here to protect under 64 Act is services not buildings, not to stand in way of sensible modernisation, make sure local authorities doing everything they can through library plans to maintain good library services