Engagements

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th January 1989.

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Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith , Islington South and Finsbury 12:00 am, 12th January 1989

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 12 January.

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply that I gave some moments ago.

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith , Islington South and Finsbury

Does the Prime Minister stand by the view, which she held when she was Secretary of State for Education in 1972, that nursery education should be available for all three and four-year-old children whose parents wished it? Will she, therefore, ensure that there is a favourable response from the Government to the unanimous report of the Education Select Committee on this matter?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

There has been an increase of more than 100,000 pupils under five in nursery and primary schools—an increase of a quarter in eight years. That is really a very good performance, which followed the particular White Paper that bears my name. We also pointed out in that White Paper that authorities should consider carefully the role of voluntary playgroups. Many thousands of mothers devote considerable time and energy to organising them. We increased the financial support for the playgroups. We pointed out, too, that the most important thing for the increase of nursery education was that it was especially valuable for children whose homes and lives are restricted, for whatever reason. Therefore, priority would be given to areas of disadvantage. That has happened.