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Labour looks at child-care link

The Prime Minister's fulfilment of his `cast-iron commitment' to nursery education has been greeted with a chorus of disapproval. Diane Hofkins and Linda Blackburne report on the scheme and its implications

Labour's plans for nursery education are expected to concentrate on providing a service that combines education and child care.

Margaret Hodge, leader of the group developing under-fives policy for the party, dismisses the Government's scheme because it will not create extra places or be of use to families where both parents are working.

Details have yet to be agreed, but Mrs Hodge believes Labour will stress the need to extend provision for three-year-olds as well as four-year-olds. The aim would be to increase the number of full-time places in nursery education, rather than encourage four-year-olds into reception classes in primary schools.

Mrs Hodge does not expect the Government's voucher scheme to be in operation before the general election.

"If the scheme is working, then we will take account of it," she says.

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