Since June, 1970, the provision of nearly 7,800 additional places in nursery schools and classes in socially-deprived areas of England has been approved under the urban programme.
Despite that figure, is the hon. Gentleman aware that the total number of nursery school places is at present disgracefully inadequate and that such places are grossly maldistributed? Is he also aware that in some local authorities there are 165 times as many nursery school places per thousand children aged five as in other local authorities, many of which provide no places at all? Will he take steps to ensure that all local authorities provide at least a certain minimum number of places, in view of the importance attached to this provision by Plowden?
That is not necessarily the case. Before long, local authorities—not local education authorities—will be asked to make further proposals under the programme of which I have spoken.
Bearing in mind the national campaign to pressurise the Government into an expansion in the provision of nursery schools, will the hon. Gentleman confirm that his Government have now abandoned the proposal being discussed among hon. Members opposite that any expansion in nursery schools should be accompanied by charges to parents?