§ Mr. Leighton
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what mechanisms his Department has on services and policies on child care and family services.
§ Mrs. Rumbold
National responsibility for policies in these areas rests with my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health.
Obtaining suitable premises is a major difficulty for those organising child care schemes and this is where the education service can offer substantial help, through making available school premises for this purpose out of normal school hours. As part of an initiative to enhance child care provision launched last year by the ministerial group on women's issues, of which I am deputy chairman, the Department issued a letter last October to all local education authorities and the chairmen of governors of all maintained schools, asking them to respond sympathetically to requests for such use of their school premises. It is, of course, for individual schools to decide on whether to help, but there are encouraging first signs of a positive response to our approach.
Within the Department, consideration is being given to the provision of creche facilities and a holiday play scheme at the Darlington office. In London the Department is participating in an interdepartmental study of the scope for providing creches centrally and in commuting areas.