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On 31st December, 1956, the latest date for which figures are available, there were 26,109 approved places available compared with 28,024 a year earlier. No comparative information is yet available about expenditure in the two financial years which included these dates.
Can the Minister state why it is the Government's policy that the number of places in day nurseries is being decreased? Is he aware that while there are fewer facilities for mothers to put their children in day nurseries there is no decrease in the number of mothers going out to work, and does not this raise a serious question of child welfare?
My right hon. and learned Friend's general policy is to give discretion to local health authorities to close nurseries, as they are best able to determine local needs. I have no reason to believe that nurseries needed as part of the local health service are being closed.