§ 5. Mr. Anthony Coombs
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what steps the TECs have taken to encourage the provision of child care in the west midlands.
§ Mrs. Gillian Shephard
The work of TECs to set up child care provision in the west midlands will be boosted by the £45 million child care grant which I announced on 16 December last year, to be introduced this April.
§ Mr. Coombs
Given that Britain employs a higher proportion of the female population than any other country in Europe bar one, and that in the past three years the number of registered day nurses has doubled, does my right hon. Friend agree that there is enormous potential in the private sector to provide child care such as that provided by the excellent Hickory Dickory Dock nursery in my constituency? Will she do everything that she can to encourage that?
§ Mrs. Shephard
I am delighted to hear of my hon. Friend's enthusiasm for the Hickory Dickory Dock scheme. He is right: there has been a large growth in private child-minding and nursery provision. However, there is no doubt that my initiative, which has been keenly welcomed by playgroups the working mothers associations and others, will be a very useful supplement to the work that he describes, including that of the Hickory Dickory Dock scheme.