§ Mr. Andrew Turner
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many early years settings have(a) opened and (b) closed in each year since 1973 for which information is available. 
§ Maria Eagle
Information on the number of maintained nursery schools that have opened and closed each year is shown in the table. Figures are available from 1995 when the Department's database of educational establishments was created.
Number of maintained nursery schools which opened and closed each year 1995 to 2002–England Closed Opened 1995 3 1 1996 6 1 1997 14 0 1998 12 2 1999 8 1 2000 15 2 2001 17 3 2002 15 2
Information on other types of early years settings that have opened and closed since 1973 is not available.
All four year olds have been able to access a free, part-time early education place since September 1998. Since September 1999, we have invested substantially in new free early years education places for three year olds. The number of free early years education places taken up by three year olds increased from 214,200 in 1997 to 408,200 in 2002, an increase of 194,000 places. We are committed to providing all three year olds, whose parents want one, with free early years education place by April 2004.