HC Deb 23 November 1972 vol 846 cc1497-8
6. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will now make a statement about her proposals for the expansion of nursery education.

24. Mr. R. C. Mitchell

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will now withdraw Circular 8/60.

43. Sir Gilbert Longden

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what plans she has for the expansion of nursery education; and if she will make a statement.

Mrs. Thatcher

I am not yet ready to make an announcement. Full details of the Government's new priorities in the education service will be given to Parliament in due course.

Mrs. Renée Short

But does the right hon. Lady not think it high time that she unveiled the promise that she made at the Tory Party conference in October? Will she give an assurance that she will not go back on that undertaking? Can she in the meantime explain why there has been an under-spending of £785,000 on the urban aid programme, which could well be used to provide more nursery classes in priority areas?

Mrs. Thatcher

I cannot answer on the urban aid programme, which comes under the Home Office. I can only tell the hon. Lady that we have used up our full quota on nursery school places. I have approved an extra 13,124 nursery school places under that programme in England and Wales, which is the larger part of the nursery places provided under the urban aid programme. I assure the hon. Lady that I shall not go back on my promise to introduce a programme of nursery education on the education budget.

Mr. John E. B. Hill

Although my right hon. Friend is not responsible for the urban aid programme, is she in a position to say whether, in making their bids for the next phase of the programme, local authorities did or did not show marked preference for more emphasis on nursery education and pre-school provision?

Mrs. Thatcher

I think that they put in for quite a number of extra nursery school places but I could not give my hon. Friend the exact priorities without a specific Question to that effect. But there will be more places under the latest urban aid programme.