HC Deb 05 December 1946 vol 431 cc477-8
1. Mr. Sparks

asked the Minister of Health in view of the urgency for increased production, if he will urge local authorities to provide the maximum possible day nursery facilities to enable mothers to take up employment; and it he will consider increasing the grant made to local authorities for this purpose.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Aneurin Bevan)

I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of Circular 221/45 in which I ask local authorities to give special attention to the demand for married women in essential industry in planning the future of their wartime nursery service. In reply to the second part of the Question, the grant now paid is already additional to the block grant, and I see no justification for increasing it.

Mr. Sparks

Is the Minister aware that in some areas there is a long waiting list of children for admission to day nurseries, and that some local authorities have gone to their financial limit to provide this accommodation?

Mr. Bevan

Financial difficulties are not the real cause of the lack of accommodation. It is the lack of buildings.

Mr. Somerville Hastings

May I ask my right hon. Friend also to remember the considerable danger that exists in the association of large numbers of small children together under supervision which is not too complete?

Mr. Sidney Shephard

Would the Minister be prepared to make grants similar to those he makes to local authorities, to others who are prepared to provide nursery facilities on their premises?

Mr. Bevan

That is another question.

Mr. Marples

Is the Minister aware that some local authorities have closed down day nurseries because this Government reduced the grant given to local authorities?

Mr. Bevan

A grant of 55 per cent. in addition to the block grant is generous. Any higher grant would produce a degree of financial irresponsibility in administration

Sir Waldron Smithers

Would it not be better if the Minister dismissed half his civil servants and put them into productive employment and let the mothers stay at home and look after their homes and children?

Mr. Bevan

We would not then have sufficient to answer the hon. Member's numerous questions.

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