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National Assembly for Wales Public Accounts Committee

Responding to the Public Accounts Committee’s ‘Scrutiny of Accounts 2014-15’ report, National Library of Wales Chief Executive and Librarian Linda Tomos said:

“The National Library is pleased to note that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has welcomed the Library’s action plan in response to the findings of the PricewaterhouseCoopers review.

“As the PAC Committee notes, the Auditor General for Wales is taking forward work on governance which will consider the response by the National Library to this review. This includes the processes the Library has in place for the declarations of interests at Board level, and the prevention of conflicts of interest arising.

“In regards to the pursuit of litigation against the contractors responsible for a fire at the Library in April 2013, the issue of legal costs and possible legal avenues has been discussed by the Library’s executive with the Library’s Board, and with Welsh Government officials.  We feel the Welsh public would expect us to seek recompense when we and our advisers thought possible.

“The Library was - and is - well aware of the risks involved.  The immediate legal action after the fire resulted in the Library avoiding the payment of approximately £50,000 that was due under the contract.  

“The total legal costs are around £75,000, and it is still hoped that some of this may be recovered from the company in liquidation.

“As part of its risk management processes, the Library has made an assessment of the likely cost and risk of legal action against the insurers of the company or other advisors.

“The Library would only commence this course of action with the consent of the Welsh Government and the Library’s Board, and a commitment that the costs would be covered.

“In terms of insurance and Government indemnity, the Library has complied with the rules that are set out on this but the Library would welcome discussion with the Welsh Government on ways they can be improved to work more effectively.

“In relation to the issue of pension and severance costs, Library's severance costs are comparable with those published by the Welsh Government.  Changes to the scheme have already been implemented after negotiation with union representatives.  The process of a further review is already underway and the Library executive is considering the employment legislation that applies to redundancy schemes.

“The Library operates a traditional defined benefit pension scheme.  In contrast to most public sector schemes, in 2013 the Library's scheme was assessed by the Actuary as being fully-funded.  The next review is due in 2016 and the Library will use the results to consider any changes it
needs to make to its pension arrangements.”

Issued on behalf of The National Library of Wales by Alastair Milburn, Effective Communication; 07813 857328 / 029 20830 8311