HC Deb 26 February 2001 vol 363 cc364-5W
Dr. Brand

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many responses to the consultation on National Standards for the Regulation of Day Care and Childminding in England published in July 2000 were received; how many of the responses received were included in the sample considered in the process of reaching the decision not to ban childminders from smoking in front of children in their care; what method was used to select the sample of responses considered in reaching this decision; and how many respondents whose responses were considered in making the assessment (i) opposed the proposal that parents should be allowed to decide whether childminders should be allowed to smoke, (ii) supported the proposal and (iii) neither supported nor opposed the proposal. [150130]

Ms Hodge

The Government have made clear that smoking will be prohibited in all group day care settings not based in the home, and in all childminding settings unless parents give their explicit consent. In addition the draft standards state that childminders must promote the good health of children in their care.

We received approximately 6,000 responses to our consultation exercise on the draft national standards for the regulation of day care. Of these, an initial analysis of 1,069 was carried out, of which 335 related directly to our proposals for national standards for childminders. The selection of responses for the initial analysis was done on the basis of a random sample, although we made sure that we also considered the responses of key organisations in the early years sector, including the National Childminding Association.

In answering the question "Do you agree with the criteria set down for this standard?", which contained the proposal to allow childminders to smoke in front of children in their care with parents' consent, 37 per cent. disagreed while 63 per cent. agreed.

Having completed our consultation on the national standards we were concerned that the views of parents had not been adequately represented. That is why the Government commissioned an independent opinion poll of over 1,000 parents to ask them whether parents or the Government should decide on whether childminders should be permitted to smoke in the presence of children in their care. A significant majority (74 per cent.) agreed with our view that this is a matter on which parents rather than the Government should decide.