HC Deb 25 November 2002 vol 395 cc20-2
25. Ian Lucas (Wrexham)

If he will bring forward proposals to extend child care provision for those in work. [81294]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Maria Eagle)

The Government's vision is for every parent to be able to access affordable, good-quality childcare, where they wish to have it.

Ian Lucas

One of the most difficult aspects of child care is the preferential provision that is given to in-place nurseries, rather than to people who work for smaller businesses, who want child care to improve their work capabilities. Is any action to be taken to assist those smaller businesses with financial support for the provision of child care?

Maria Eagle

The Government already have a good record of creating new child care places, having done so for an extra 1.6 million children. Along with colleagues in the Department for Education and Skills, we are currently examining the best way of ensuring that both public and private sector provision is improved still further, to ensure that parents have the opportunity to get their children into nursery and pre-school places.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham)

What discussions has the hon. Lady had with her colleagues in the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions about one of the principal impediments to the better supply of decent child care, namely the rigidity and inflexibility of our current planning procedures?

Maria Eagle

The hon. Gentleman is well aware that that Department is now two Departments. I cannot tell whether he wants me to talk to the Department for Transport or ask about local government. We are working across government to ensure that improvements are made in the availability of child care for all our children.

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