§ Mr. David Nicholson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the 10 highest annual rate increases reported among English local authorities since 1983, giving the year of increase, the amount and the appropriate local authority.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
I have been asked to reply.
It is for local authorities to decide what priority they give to provision of services for pre-school children. We would expect local authority provision to be targeted on children from families with particular health or social difficulties rather than specifically designed to enable mothers to seek employment. Under the Children Act local authorities will be expected to review the availability of services and to publish information not only about what they provide themselves but also the provision of others and in particular voluntary organisations who make a valuable contribution in this area. The Department of Education and Science wrote in October to encourage local education authorities to allow the use of school premises for child care provision out of school hours.