HC Deb 12 June 1995 vol 261 cc487-8
9. Mr. Flynn

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what new proposals he has to improve nursery education provision. [26039]

Mr. Richards

The Government are committed to ensuring that a pre-school place is available for every four-year-old whose parents want to take it up. We are currently considering how that commitment can best be implemented in Wales.

Mr. Flynn

Why are the children of parents who live in Labour-controlled local authorities three times more likely to get places in nursery schools than the children of parents who live in Conservative-controlled authorities? Why is it that in the county of Berkshire, where Wokingham is situated, fewer than one third of the children enjoy nursery education, yet in the county of Gwent, where Newport is situated, three quarters of the children enjoy that provision? How dare the Government say that they are about to start on a crusade in education—16 years late? Would it not be better for the people of Wales and Wokingham, when the glorious day arrives and my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) becomes Secretary of State for Wales, if my right hon. Friend also took over the duty as governor-general of Wokingham?

Mr. Richards

Berkshire is a Liberal-Labour-controlled local authority. I think that that is called an own goal. Conservative Members certainly recognise the benefits of pre-school education. The hon. Gentleman can be certain of one thing: when it is introduced in Wales, there will be diversity and choice. He is certainly one person who could have benefited from pre-school education. Indeed, he might even benefit from it now.