HC Deb 27 June 1968 vol 767 cc785-6
4. Mr. Robert Cooke

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will now permit local educa- tion authorities to allocate available funds as they think fit and cease to restrict the expansion of nursery education.

34. Mr. Ellis

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps he is taking to assist local education authorities to provide nursery education facilities in their areas.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Miss Alice Bacon)

My right hon. Friend would like to extend nursery facilities when the necessary funds and teachers are available. However, at the present time there can be no general relaxation, but I am looking at the possibility of a limited expansion.

Mr. Cooke

The right hon. Lady would not wish to frustrate local authorities which out of their own resources wish to provide self-financed nursery education, would she?

Miss Bacon

I am not quite sure what that means. We must consider the teacher position as well, particularly in areas of high population where there is a severe shortage of infant teachers. We are studying all this and I assure the hon. Gentleman that my right hon. Friend and I will be as happy as other Members of the House when we can make some progress.

Mrs. Renée Short

Will my right hon. Friend now undertake to withdraw the circular which prevents local education authorities with the resources and with the teachers from setting up nursery classes? Will she look again at the whole problem of training nursery teachers with much more urgency?

Miss Bacon

I could not promise to withdraw the circular. What we might look at is an extension of the circular to bring other classes in.