9 AUGUST 1975, Page 5

Public lending right

Sir: From time to time you publish comments on public lending right of such ignorance that I wonder whether it would not bd a good idea for you to invite, say, Maureen Duffy or Brigid Brophy to one of your lunches before you leave your present premises, in order to explain the issues to you and your staff.

It may well be that Lady Selina Hastings is paid E65 for a 250-word book-review by the Daily Telegraph Magazine (though somehow I doubt it). But the fact that a man can earn money by doing one thing is not really a logical reason for paying him nothing for doing something else. If you were to refuse Mr Larry Adler a fee for contributing to your paper on the grounds that he could make money out of the blowing of his mouth-organ, both he and Lady Selina Hastings might feel • aggrieved.

The idea of libraries paying a special price is now a dead duck. Despite the fact that it was generally acknowledged to be less fair than a loan-based scheme, since it would exclude all books already on the shelves of libraries, many people at one time favoured a purchase-based scheme because they thought that it would be cheaper and easier to administer. The Technical Investigation Group, set up by the DES, has shown this to be a fallacy.

Why on earth should you be surprised that `sturdy individualists' like John Braine and Lord Carrington support PLR? Sturdy individualists (of which I am one) see no reason why a generally prosperous section of the country should continue to be subsidised by an increasingly povertystricken one.

Why, also, should you be surprised that Lord Goodman is 'in this company'? He has for years been one of the staunchest of advocates of PLR and recently made a marvellously effective and witty speech on the subject in the House of Lords, totally demolishing Lord Eccles. To ask why he should be a signatory of a letter on PLR is rather like asking why Lord Longford should be a signatory of a letter on pornography.

The object of PLR is not to increase the number of books being published (as you seem to imagine) — though it might have the incidental effect of making it easier to publish minority writing. That object is merely to ensure that authors are given the right to be paid for the loans of any of their books. Francis King 19 Gordon Place, London W8,