HC Deb 04 March 1975 vol 887 cc1257-8
12. Mr. Gould

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action he is proposing to take in respect of Hampshire County Council's grant for nursery school building in the light of its intention to cut back its programme for 1975–76.

Mr. Armstrong

My Department authorises capital building for nursery education provision in local authority areas and the rate support grant takes account of the costs incurred. The Hampshire County Council has informed my Department that it does not intend to carry out any nursery education building in 1974–75 or 1975–76 although its allocation from the resources available over the two years totalled £1,105,000. As I have already made clear, these resources will be made available to other authorities able and willing to use them for nursery education building.

Mr. Gould

Is my hon. Friend aware that in Hampshire only one child out of 40 attends nursery school, compared with the national figure of one in nine? Does he agree that Hampshire County Council's refusal to accept its allocation for nursery school building will further prejudice Hampshire schoolchildren in this respect and that if that is to be avoided in the light of the priority the Government give to nursery education, further Government action is needed?

Mr. Armstrong

Yes, Sir. It is difficult for the Department to intervene. I agree with my hon. Friend that hundreds of thousands of children are born to fail. To compensate for that we must have more pre-school education. I very much deplore Hampshire's attitude. I am glad to say that 57 other authorities have willingly applied for the resources that Hampshire does not want to use.