HC Deb 04 December 1995 vol 268 cc13-4
15. Mr. Ainger

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many representations he has received from local authorities in Wales supporting the proposed nursery voucher scheme.[1870]

Mr. Hague

None, but parents will see the considerable benefit of expanded provision and choice. I have received a large number of constructive suggestions on the options for implementation, which I am now considering.

Mr. Ainger

The Secretary of State is honourable enough to accept that nobody in Wales supports him on that issue. Does he also accept that every new unitary authority that has looked at the case for vouchers has rejected it, as has every existing local education authority in Wales and every parents association? If the Secretary of State is really interested in the opinion of Wales, why does he not accept it and withdraw that ludicrous scheme?

Mr. Hague

I believe in extending choice as well as in putting more money into the system. The purpose of the consultation is to seek views on the scheme's detailed implementation. I am grateful to everyone who has responded—even those who say that they are against the scheme—because we are now able to take account of useful suggestions. I do not understand why Opposition Members are frightened of vouchers. They will bring choice and more money into the system. Is it that Opposition Members are more hostile to choice than they recently tried to pretend?