§ Mr. Simon Hughes
asked the Prime Minister whether she has established any joint initiatives between the Department of the Environment and (a) the Department of Education and Science or (b) the Department of Health and Social Security on children's play; and if she will make a statement.
§ The Prime Minister
Following consultation between the Departments of Environment, Health and Social Security, Education and Science, the Welsh Office, Scottish Office and Northern Ireland Office, the Government in 1983 supported the establishment of Play Board for the promotion and development of children's play. Since then Play Board has received £700,000 each year from the Department of the Environment, £50,000 each year since 1984 from the Welsh Office, and £33,000 each year since 1985 from Northern Ireland Office, to support its work.
Last year the Department of the Environment, in consultation with other interested Departments, reviewed Play Board's operation. As a result the Government have proposed that Play Board's role and functions should be merged with those of the Sports Council so as to use the mechanism of that major established body, and its expertise, i.e. raising private sector funds, for the more effective promotion and development of children's play. Negotiations between the two bodies concerned to effect the merger are under way.