Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, has today welcomed the assurance he received from Ed Vaizey in a response to a written Parliamentary question on 11 June that the Government’s preferred option for the future of the Registrar of the Public Lending Right (PLR) would not see jobs transferred from Teesside to London.
The Registrar of the Public Lending Right manages payments to authors to compensate them for their books being borrowed from public libraries. It is a small, specialist and efficient non-Departmental Public Body based in Thornaby that employs 9 people. The Government is currently consulting as to its future, with their preferred option being a merger of the PLR and the London-based British Library.
“I have recently being fighting a campaign to secure the future of the Registrar of the Public Lending Right, ultimately raising the matter in today’s Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sports Question Time.
Authors, including North East resident and second Children’s Laureate Anne Fine and crime author Ian Rankin, are opposed to the Government’s proposals. The PLR functions perfectly well, and I fail to see the benefits of merging it, since there is very little room to make savings. I strongly suspect the Government’s motivation is not to reduce costs, but simply to make the party political gesture of reducing the number of quangos, even when the so-called ‘quangos’ are popular and efficient like this one is. I have always said “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, and this is a prime example.
One of my main concerns, however, was that jobs would be transferred from Teesside and moved to British Library offices in London. I believe there were no guarantees offered against this in the consultation documents, so I asked the Secretary of State if this would be the case. Following the pressure I placed on them, alongside authors, trades unions and local Labour MPs, Culture Minister Edward Vaizey offered me an assurance on Monday that this would not be the case.
Although I welcome this news, I continue to join authors in questioning whether any reform is necessary or cost-effective, and I will continue to fight for the jobs of these workers, as I do for any jobs on Teesside.”