Is this Cameron’s biggest PMQs whopper yet?
Today at Prime Minster’s Questions, Cameron said:
It is this Government who have taken 1.1 million people out of tax, who froze the council tax, cut the petrol tax, introduced free nursery care for two, three and four-year-olds (my emphasis).
This is incorrect.
The Nursery Education Grant, which provides free early years education (not care, that’s the whole point!) for three and four year olds, was introduced* in 1997 by the incoming Labour government.
This ‘mistake’ is reflective either of Cameron’s inattention to basic policy, or of a generally cavalier attitude to the truth.
* From this academic paper:
Mrs. Thatcher, announced that nursery education would be expanded to cover all 3-4 year olds by 1982. However, public expenditure restraints were imposed from 1974 onwards, and as a result the duty of the Department of Education to pay attention to the need for nursery education was abandoned in 1980, as was any commitment to making cover universal for 3 and 4 year olds.
It was the stated aim of successive Conservative government in them UK to ‘roll back the state’ in favour of provision by the family, the voluntary sector and the market…….
A number of Government policies were then introduced that could be seen to be addressing inequalities in employment as well as encouraging the use of formal (privately provided) childcare…..
[T]he major initiative….. took the form of a voucher scheme for nursery school education, introduced in 1996. The case for vouchers was based on Government’s belief that more provision by the independent sector would increase competition and provide more choice for parents…..
The experiment was abandoned by the incoming Labour Government in 1997, which translated the voucher into the Nursery Education Grant, paid to providers rather than parents.