HC Deb 18 December 1979 vol 976 cc273-6
13. Miss Joan Lestor

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list by local education authority the percentage of children aged 3 or 4 years who are at present attending nursery schools.

Mr. Mark Carlisle

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I will arrange for the latest information, which refers to January 1979, to be published in the Official Report.

Miss Lestor

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that, whatever information he may publish in the Official Report, the action of some local authorities means that many children aged 3 and 4 years will not receive nursery education because of the cuts? Will he therefore consider issuing a circular to local authorities, placing on them a requirement for minimum provision in every area?

Mr. Carlisle

I do not consider that it is neccessary to issue a circular or guidance. The Education Acts cover the matter, and I am considering the whole situation. May I say to the hon. Lady that the only reason why I could not answer the question fully was that it would require reading out every individual local authority by name. For both nursery schools and nursery classes the answer would have been 18 per cent. overall.

Mr. Thompson

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the best way to expand nursery education is to bow to public pressure and allow local authorities to charge for that service?

Mr. Carlisle

The Government have received many requests that we should allow charging for nursery education, and we have not yet made a decision.

Mrs. Ann Taylor

Is the Secretary of State aware that his ministerial colleague went a little further this morning in Committee when he said that the Government were actively considering the introduction of charges for nursery school places? Is he further aware that that statement will cause a great deal of fear and despondency to everyone involved in nursery education, and that, if such charges were introduced, they would hit hardest those children who would benefit most from nursery education?

Mr. Carlisle

The hon. Lady would be somewhat surprised if she were not told that the Government were considering their response to the many requests made on this subject. I believe that that is what my hon. Friend said. There have been many requests from local authorities that they should be given freedom to charge, in the belief that by doing so there would be a greater demand for nursery education, which they could then meet. As I said, we are considering our response to those requests.

Following is the information: Full-time and part-time pupils aged 3 and 4 in maintained nursery schools and nursery classes in maintained primary schools as a percentage of the estimated population aged 3 and 4 years.

Local Education Authority Per cent
Barking 22
Barnet 25
Bexley 9
Brent 27
Local Education Authority—cont. per cent.
Bromley 2
Croydon 6
Ealing 22
Enfield 19
Haringey 30
Harrow 15
Havering 4
Hillingdon 32
Hounslow 30
Kingston-upon-Thames 32
Merton 34
Newham 42
Redbridge 9
Richmond-upon-Thames 9
Sutton 14
Waltham Forest 31
Inner London 35
Birmingham 23
Coventry 18
Dudley 22
Sandwell 27
Solihull 19
Walsall 42
Wolverhampton 38
Knowsley 16
Liverpool 36
St. Helens 17
Sefton 24
Wirral 16
Bolton 27
Bury 11
Manchester 50
Oldham 19
Rochdale 25
Salford 32
Stockport 11
Tameside 25
Trafford 10
Wigan 16
Barnsley 42
Doncaster 36
Rotherham 37
Sheffield 29
Bradford 26
Calderdale 23
Kirklees 25
Leeds 17
Wakefield 38
Gateshead 20
Newcastle-upon-Tyne 30
North Tyneside 37
South Tyneside 37
Sunderland 27
Isles of Scilly
Avon 11
Bedfordshire 26
Berkshire 20
Buckinghamshire 13
Cambridgeshire 11
Cheshire 17
Cleveland 39
Cornwall 11
Cumbria 17
Derbyshire 18
Devon 6
Dorset 5
Durham 29
East Sussex 7
Essex 4
Hampshire 4
Hereford and Worcester 5
Local Education Authority—cont. per cent.
Hertfordshire 32
Humberside 22
Isle of Wight 5
Kent 4
Lancashire 13
Leicestershire 22
Lincolnshire 7
Norfolk 4
North Yorkshire 16
Northamptonshire 8
Northumberland 12
Nottinghamshire 38
Oxfordshire 12
Salop 10
Somerset 2
Staffordshire 22
Suffolk 10
Surrey 12
Warwickshire 14
West Sussex 3
Wiltshire 1
England 18