Public Libraries Act ignored, says man who drafted it

Public Libraries Act ignored, says man who drafted it

The government and local authorities are not fulfilling the statutory duties laid down by the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, according to the man who drafted the bill that became the act.

In a letter to The Times, Francis Bennion listed the key duties the act set down; for the local authority to provide a "comprehensive and efficient" service; and for the government to "superintend, and promote the improvement of, the public library service provided by local authorities in England and Wales, and...secure the proper discharge by local authorities of the functions in relation to libraries conferred on them as library authorities.

Bennion said: "The act does not contain any provision for reduction of the duties because of a need for 'cuts'." He said he had specifically drafted the 1964 Act "to draw a reasonable line between the requirements of the public and the limited resources of local authorities."

Bennion spent 14 years in the Westminster Parliamentary Counsel Office drafting Acts of Parliament, as well as drafting the constitutions by which Pakistan and Ghana became republics.