§ Mr. Letwin
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement about the Government's plans for the nursery voucher scheme. 
§ Ms Estelle Morris
I refer the hon. Members to the reply given earlier today by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to my hon. Friend the Member of Forest of Dean (Mrs. Organ).
§ Ms Morris
The Government will replace the previous Government's voucher scheme from the autumn term. The voucher scheme will not meet the need for high quality, accessible early years education.
The Government will consult during the summer on proposals for the preparation of full Early Years Development Plans to take effect in all areas from April 1998. In addition, we will be inviting proposals for the development of pilot early excellence centres to demonstrate our commitment to bringing nursery education and childcare closer together.
For the autumn and spring terms, local education authorities will be invited to submit an interim Early Years Development Plan. This will set out the way in which they will provide places for four year olds in their area. They will be expected to consult and co-operate with the private and voluntary sectors in these arrangements.
Where interim Early Years Development Plans are approved, recognised places in all sectors filled by eligible four year olds will be funded by grant provided by the Secretary of State paid through LEAs or direct in the case of GM schools. Where LEAs are unable to bring forward an acceptable interim plan, recognised places chosen by parents in the private and voluntary sectors will be funded by grant from the Secretary of State by reference to certificates of eligibility issued to those parents.
Information about arrangements for the remainder of 1997–98 will be sent to LEAs and other interests shortly, and to parents of four year olds and providers as soon as practicable.