HC Deb 18 June 1940 vol 362 cc33-4
64. Mr. David Adams

asked the President of the Board of Education whether, in view of the heavy increase of the infant mortality rates in industrial areas during the last war, he will take immediate steps to secure the setting-up of nursery schools throughout the country?

Mr. Ramsbotham

I assume that the hon. Member has in mind primarily the areas in which large numbers of women are employed on industrial work of national importance. As stated in the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health on 6th June, he is actively engaged, in consultation with the Minister of Labour, in considering the establishment of day nurseries in these areas. In view of the long hours for which the nurseries would have to be open and the need for providing for children under two years of age as well as those between two and five, the provision of day nurseries would appear to be more appropriate than that of nursery schools. It is hoped, however, that it will be practicable to provide some form of occupational training for the older children.

Mr. Adams

Does the Minister not agree that, in view of the fact that the Government have decided to make evacuation voluntary, there must be a large number of children in the evacuation areas who ought to have nursery schools provided for them?

Mr. Ramsbotham

The hon. Member refers to taking immediate steps, but I think it is far more practicable, in present circumstances, to deal with day nurseries than starting nursery schools.

Viscountess Astor

Is it not the case that the Government's scheme deals with children under two, and day nursery schools deal with children between two and five? Is it not true that the Government already have the matter well in hand?