HC Deb 11 December 1997 vol 302 cc1168-9
3. Mr. Rhodri Morgan

If he will list the number of after-school child care places to be provided in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales and (c) each of the English regions. [18748]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment (Mr. Alan Howarth)

The precise breakdown of places will depend on the volume and quality of bids received by the new opportunities fund.

Mr. Morgan

I thank the Minister for that reply. Is not the affordability of good quality child care essential to the success of any welfare-to-work programme? Will he confirm that research by the equal opportunities organisation in Wales, Chwarae Teg, shows that so far child care has reached only the children of parents with professional qualifications? So far—if I may refer briefly to last night's events—it has not yet reached the classic low-paid lone parent.

Mr. Howarth

The research that my hon. Friend mentions is indeed significant, and demonstrates that this country has lagged seriously behind in the provision of child care. The previous Administration did not think that they had a responsibility to develop a national child care strategy. We shall do so.

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor has made an additional £300 million available over five years. That will ensure that there is out-of-school child care provision; there are also other child care projects available in every community. We approach that important responsibility with the utmost seriousness. It is a means of ensuring that those who are deprived, in poverty and on the margins of our society have the opportunities that the Government want them to have.

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