HC Deb 13 November 1969 vol 791 cc585-6
1. Mr. Moonman

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the total expenditure on nursery education for the years 1960–61, 1965–66, 1967–68 and 1968–69, respectively; and what plans he has for expansion in the coming year.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Miss Joan Lestor)

Expenditure on nursery schools by local authorities in England and Wales rose from £. million in 1960–61 to £.million in 1965–66, £. million in 1967–68 and £. million in 1968–69. Figures for expenditure on nursery classes are not available. 10,000 additional nursery places—mostly in nursery classes—in deprived areas have been included in the first two phases of the urban programme this year, at a cost of nearly £3 million.

Mr. Moonman

I am grateful for that information which, in part, is most encouraging. Does not my hon. Friend feel that while the fact that one child in nine in the 3 to 5 age group goes to nursery school is depressing enough, the fact that there is uneven distribution throughout the country so that in London the administrative county has 68 places per 1,000 and Lancashire has only 27 places per 1,000 demands serious attention?

Miss Lestor

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. I would only add to my original answer that we are aware of the uneven distribution and that this is a matter of concern to us. However, we accept the Plowden recommendation that expansion in the nursery school sphere, the first expansion for many years, should start in the deprived areas. We are all aware that one can find deprived children in areas which are not obviously deprived; and, clearly, we want in future to try to secure nursery school education for all children.

Mr. J. E. B. Hill

I congratulate the hon. Lady on her appointment. Is it known what proportion the 10,000 new places to be made available represent of the ascertained need for nursery school places in the deprived areas?

Miss Lestor

I cannot give the hon. Gentleman a detailed answer off the cuff. If he will table a Question I will get the information for him.