On ratios, Cathy Nutbrown’s report made it clear that sometimes we can offset different ratios against the quality of the staff in a setting. The hon. Lady asked whether we would be looking at international examples. That is one of the first areas where we have much to learn from other countries. The hon. Member for South West Norfolk (Elizabeth Truss) gave examples from the Netherlands. There is a great deal that we can learn from the Netherlands, as well as from France and the

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Scandinavian countries. Some countries have slightly different systems. Others have systems similar to our own.

The core aim is to focus on the three elements that I outlined at the beginning of my speech: quality, affordability and availability. If we do not bring all those three together, parents will feel that they are losing one of the legs of the stool that is vital for them to sit on if they are to be prepared to leave their child in an early years setting.

Quality is incredibly important to the Government. Our defining principle is to try to raise social mobility. If we were to take decisions that were at the expense of quality, that would undermine the core work that we are trying to do in other areas. However, parents are finding it extremely difficult to pay for child care, and where regulation is getting in the way it is right and proper to see what we can do to relieve the burden on the setting and to see whether that will have any long-term impact on costs for parents.

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for making available this opportunity to place my commitment to the area on the record, and to thank the NCMA for all the work that it does in raising quality for childminders and in making its views well known to Government. I am sure that it will make its views well known during the next few months as we think about how to extend affordability and availability of child care to parents.

I heard the hon. Lady’s invitation to visit Hackney, and I shall certainly bear that in mind as we think about how we might get more information about how any of these changes might affect practitioners on the ground.

Question put and agreed to.

2.59 pm

House adjourned.