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Ministerial Correction

Thursday 24 May 2012

Deputy Prime Minister

Topical Questions

The following is the answer given by the Deputy Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr Clegg), to a question from the hon. Member for Edinburgh East (Sheila Gilmore) during Deputy Prime Minister Question Time on 22 May 2012.

T12. [108486] Sheila Gilmore (Edinburgh East) (Lab): The Deputy Prime Minister has been quoted in the media as saying, rightly in my opinion, that social mobility will take a long time to change, so why, on coming to power in May 2010, did he agree to the reduction or elimination of measures such as the education maintenance allowance and Sure Start long before their long-term effects could be judged?

The Deputy Prime Minister: As I hope the hon. Lady knows, we have protected the money for Sure Start, but there is, I acknowledge, greater discretion for local authorities to decide how to use it. I am aware of 10 outright closures of Sure Start centres across the country, and of course it is important to know why local authorities have taken those decisions. I hope that

24 May 2012 : Column 16MC

she is also aware of the extra investment that we are now putting in, particularly for early years—for children even before they go to school. We know from the evidence that that makes the most dramatic difference for subsequent social mobility. As of April next year, 40% of all two-year-olds in this country, including all two-year-olds from the most disadvantaged families, will receive for the first time 15 hours of free pre-school support.

[Official Report, 22 May 2012, Vol. 545, c. 980.]

Letter of correction from Nick Clegg:

An error has been identified in the oral answer given on 22 May 2012 to the hon. Member for Edinburgh East (Sheila Gilmore).

The correct answer should have been:

The Deputy Prime Minister: As I hope the hon. Lady knows, we have protected the money for Sure Start, but there is, I acknowledge, greater discretion for local authorities to decide how to use it. I am aware of 10 outright closures of Sure Start centres across the country, and of course it is important to know why local authorities have taken those decisions. I hope that she is also aware of the extra investment that we are now putting in, particularly for early years—for children even before they go to school. We know from the evidence that that makes the most dramatic difference for subsequent social mobility. As of 2014, 40% of all two-year-olds in this country, including all two-year-olds from the most disadvantaged families, will receive for the first time 15 hours of free pre-school support.