§ 38. Mr. S. S. Awbery
asked the Minister of Education if she is aware that local authorities are reducing or closing nursery schools as part of the policy to cut costs; that mothers of young children cannot take part in the production drive unless care is taken of their children; and if she will refuse her assent to such measures.
§ 90. Mr. George Chetwynd
asked the Minister of Education in how many cases she has refused approval to the proposals of local education authorities to abolish nursery schools; and whether this action qualifies as part of the economies called for in Circular 242.
§ Miss Horsbrugh
Three local education authorities have proposed to close nursery schools as a measure of economy under Circular 242. In one case, I have refused to agree to the authority's proposal. In general, I am not prepared to agree to the closure of the schools solely on financial grounds. Each case should be looked at on its merits in the light of all the local circumstances, including, amongst other things, the extent to which the mothers of children are employed in work of national importance.
§ Mr. Awbery
Is the right hon. Lady aware of the feeling that exists in the country about the closing of nursery schools? Will she give a categorical assurance that she will discourage all local authorities who are attempting to close these nursery schools?
§ Miss Horsbrugh
I made it perfectly clear in Circular 242, and I have also made it clear since, that there should be no closure of the whole of any part of the educational system. If it were found in certain areas that nursery schools were not required the authority could consider it, but I have made it perfectly clear that I could not agree to the closure, simply for the sake of economy, of all nursery schools.
§ Mr. Chetwynd
Will the Minister say which authority it is which she has compelled to keep open nursery schools?