Can I persuade the Minister to expand fund provision for nursery schooling in Wales, bearing in mind the recent cuts throughout Wales, particularly in Clwyd? May I remind him of the Prime Minister's famous commitment in the 1970s to nursery schooling for all?
Does he know that tomorrow the local education authority in Clwyd will consider the closure of Bistre nursery school in Buckley? Hundreds of parents are deeply disappointed at the level of nursery provision in Clwyd and parents of children at that school are very upset. How will the Minister help?
I understand that the proposals by Clwyd education authority to reduce nursery provision was rejected at a meeting of the county council on 7 June and that was why I told the right hon. Gentleman in the Welsh Grand Committee that it was a matter for local education authorities, as is the provision of nursery education throughout Wales. About 70 per cent. of our children under five are in nursery schools or classes. That is a high average compared with England and other parts of the world.
I am sure that when the Minister visited various schools in Wales he met many children who spoke Welsh and that he is aware that many parents in Wales are afraid that the Government will not introduce a new Welsh Language Act. Will he give an assurance today to the people of Wales that the new Welsh Language Act will be introduced in 1988?
Surely the hon. Gentleman knows the contents of the Education Reform Bill and the Welsh provisions in that Bill, under which Welsh will be a core curriculum subject along with English, mathematics and science in Welsh-speaking schools and a foundation subject in other schools. For the first time in history Welsh has a statutory place in the school curriculum. If I am not mistaken, surely that kind of advance was among the proposals being pressed for in the Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley).
Does the Minister accept that, although education authorities have a responsibility, as he suggested in his earlier reply, he has a responsibility to encourage local authorities to provide a standard of excellence? In view of the legal decisions now being taken, will he assure the House that he will speed up the process to enable South Glamorgan local authority to provide a sixth-form college, which it is seeking to do, but which has been held up by the Welsh Office in recent months?
It is possible that the hon. Gentleman has misunderstood the purpose of the legal proceedings to which he referred. The court case revolved around concern by the Department, which was shared by the objectors, that South Glamorgan county council's procedures might be invalid. The High Court has now determined that the procedures were valid and, accordingly, my right hon. Friend will make his decision as soon as possible.