High Street Retailers

Baroness Rebuck Excerpts
Wednesday 25th April 2018

(6 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Evans of Bowes Park) (Con)
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My Lords, it is the turn of the Conservative Benches.

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Lord Henley Portrait Lord Henley
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My Lords, this is something that local authorities, which are best placed to look at these issues, can do. I would commend them to look at all possible uses for spare retail space, if there is such space.

Baroness Rebuck Portrait Baroness Rebuck
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My Lords, none of us wants our high streets to become ghost towns. I declare an interest, but bookshops, through activities such as book festivals, World Book Day for kids and signings, drive up footfall that benefits all retailers. Bookshops are also cultural hubs and play a vital role as community and learning spaces. Will the Government now consider giving bookshops the same rate relief that is given, rightly, to many community pubs, and thus avoid an estimated one in four closures in future?

Lord Henley Portrait Lord Henley
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I do not have precise figures for sales of books. I think the noble Baroness probably does, and she will find that book sales are increasing again. Whether the sales are happening in the shops is another matter, because obviously a lot of those sales will be online. That is how people want to buy books, as often as not. I note what the noble Baroness said about the successes that part of the sector is achieving through book fairs and other means, and I commend pursuing that type of thing to other sectors. Her final point is one that can be considered.