Child Care Facilities

Oral Answers to Questions — Civil Service – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th July 1989.

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Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell , Gedling 12:00 am, 17th July 1989

To ask the Minister for the Civil Service whether he will encourage child care within the Civil Service to encourage recruitment and retention of staff.

Photo of Mr Richard Luce Mr Richard Luce , Shoreham

Yes, I am already doing so. The Civil Service seeks to employ staff of the highest quality of both sexes and recognises the importance of providing good child care facilities if it is to recruit and retain such staff.

Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell , Gedling

I thank my right hon. Friend for that encouraging reply. Does he agree that the effects of the demographic trough of which we are all aware, which mean that in Nottinghamshire 30 per cent. fewer children will be leaving school by 1995, underline the importance of good-quality child care, of career breaks and of other ways of encouraging part-timers back to work?

Photo of Mr Richard Luce Mr Richard Luce , Shoreham

My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the demographic changes. There will be a substantial fall in the number of 16 to 19-year-olds in the next five or six years. That means that we shall have to look more widely to recruit the most able people, to keep up the standards of the Civil Service. I hope that as a result of our equal opportunities policy we shall be able to recruit more women to the service. There are a number of schemes—self-financing holiday schemes, care-parent schemes, and value-for-money nurseries—being established. There is also the evolution of part-time work, job-sharing and flexible working opportunities, all of which should help to recruit more people, particularly women, in the next five or six years.

Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd Shadow Secretary of State for International Development

As this country has one of the worst records in Europe on child care provision, why do the Government not put their money where their mouth is and enable local education authorities to make statutory provision for child care facilities?

Photo of Mr Richard Luce Mr Richard Luce , Shoreham

The hon. Lady must put that question to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science. My concern is with the provision in the Civil Service. We are providing facilities to enable us to recruit and retain the best and most competent people, including women. We have to grapple with that problem. We are providing an increasing range of facilities which should encourage able women to stay rather than leave, as well as encouraging more to join the service.