HC Deb 11 December 1967 vol 756 cc12-3
31. Miss Lestor

asked the Minister of Health if he will take steps to raise the educational content and standards of play groups to those of nursery schools.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Mr. Julian Snow)

Local health authorities have already been given guidance on the educational aspects of private day care, and my right hon. Friend and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science are considering what further advice is needed.

Miss Lestor

I thank my hon. Friend for his reply, but would he bear in mind that the persistence with which some of us pursue this matter is due to the fact that owing to the inadequate provision of nursery schools more and more under-fives now come under his Ministry, and that the same attention should be given to the educational standards of play groups as is given to the number of lavatories and the hygienic conditions of the groups?

Mr. Snow

Although I should like to examine those assumptions a little more closely, may I inform my hon. Friend that there were two circulars issued in 1965 giving advice to local authorities about ways of meeting the training needs of people in charge of children. There have been two recent publications, which I should be happy to send to my hon. Friend, entitled "Not Yet Five", and Play with a Purpose ", both issued by Her Majesty's Stationery Office. I take her point about the educational requirements of this category of child.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

The hon. Gentleman referred to the co-operation of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science. Is he aware that there have been cases where local authorities seeking to make site provision for nursery schools next door to primary schools have had loan sanction refused? In view of the delay inevitably involved in providing nursery schools, will he see that better facilities for the education and looking after of children in these ways are made available at day nurseries and play centres?

Mr. Snow

Yes, Sir. These things must take their place in the queue, taking into 2.ccount the resources available. However, there are not many people who need to be convinced of the need to cater for this group of children. The hon. Gentleman will bear in mind that this Government have taken many steps and secured much information with a view to the planning of this form of educational facility.