HC Deb 22 January 1942 vol 377 cc409-10
33. Mr. Douglas

asked the Minister of Health how many war-time day nurseries have been provided in London; how many children they will accommodate; and what is the average daily attendance?

Mr. E. Brown

Twenty whole-time nurseries with accommodation for 828 children are now in operation in the London Region: 44 more with accommodation for 1,911 children are approved and will shortly be open. A further 92 nurseries are in preparation. Figures of attendances are only available at present for a nurseries, which have been open for some months. In these nurseries there are 406 places and the average attendance at the end of December was 308.

Sir Percy Harris

Can my right hon. Friend say how many of these 20 have been started since the war?

Mr. Brown

These are all war-time nurseries. My right hon. Friend will realise that one of the first things to be done was to remove the nursery schools into the country, and these, as units, although not with the same children, are in existence in the country as whole-time residential nurseries.

Miss Cazalet

Can my right hon. Friend say on what date it is hoped the 44 nurseries approved will be actually opened?

Mr. Brown

I cannot say, but I get a return on the last day of each month, and, of course, I act on the advice, as to pressure, from the Ministry of Labour as to where the industrial need really occurs in each area, including London.

Sir F. Fremantle

Will my right hon. Friend provide women in order to help?

Mr. Brown

We have not been held up for nurses yet.

Dr. Edith Summerskill

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this small number of nursery schools makes practically no contribution to the problem at all?

Mr. Brown

I do not agree. The hon. Lady will understand that in this matter everybody is working on conjecture, because these women volunteer. They are not directed or conscripted. The Government policy is to obtain single women first, then married women without children, and then married women with children. The women come for one of two reasons, either with a keen desire to help the war effort or for economic reasons. My duty is to meet the need, and that I intend to do.