§ 3. Mr. Campbell-Savours
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Coventry, South West (Mr. Butcher) Official Report, 16 June, c. 849, he will ensure that the Government will provide for the continuance of the increase in the number of children in nursery classes.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Dr. Rhodes Boyson)
Our allocation to local authorities for capital expenditure on education building allows for the provision of about 2,000 new nursery places per year, which should cater for about 4,000 children.
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
Does the Minister accept that a positive programme of nursery education would help to stabilise the inner cities and the declining industrial areas of the United Kingdom? Does he further accept that some parents in these unfortunate areas need guidance and some form of parental training to assist them in these difficult times? Does he also accept that the introduction of early education might enable him to forge a worthwhile link between parents and institutions of the State?
§ Dr. Boyson
The Government, like the previous two Governments, have tried to help nursery education within the resources available. Giving priority to nursery education for the handicapped and those in city centre areas with intense problems is a policy that we shall continue.
§ Mr. Stokes
Would not a better solution be for nursery classes to be somewhat curtailed so that working mothers could spend more time with their children, improve family life and help to reduce unemployment'?
§ Dr. Boyson
The Government have said that we shall move towards the provision of nursery education for those parents who desire it. I take the point made by my hon. Friend. In the long run, the only way to solve childhood delinquency is by strengthening, not weakening, the family. That should never be forgotten.
§ Mrs. Renée Short
As the Government are being educated about Labour Party policy after the next election, does the hon. Gentleman not consider that it is about time that nursery education was made part of the State system for all children aged 3 to 5 whose parents need and want it?
§ Dr. Boyson
The simple answer is "No". The Government have said that nursery education should be 963 provided for those who want it. It should not be compulsory for those who do not want it. The best pupil-teacher ratio of all is one parent to one child at home.