'I am pressing ahead immediately to honour our pledge to abandon the nursery voucher scheme in Wales. The scheme was, and is, irrelevant to the needs of parents and children. It was unwanted, unpopular and undesirable. The overwhelmingly majority of 4 year olds here - 9 out of 10 - already receive education in state schools. Vouchers have created a wholly unnecessary bureaucracy for schools, local authorities and other providers alike. We are getting rid of the paper chase - not the places parents want for their 4 year olds.
'Existing administrative and funding mechanisms make it practicable to abolish vouchers for state schools from September 1997. That is not so for the relatively small voluntary and private sectors. For parents wishing to use these sectors for their children, funding will be maintained by a certificate equivalent in value to that of a voucher, to the end of this financial year - that is, until the end of the spring term 1998.'
Mr Hain said he was immediately inviting Welsh local authorities' views on the practical arrangements for the abolition of the voucher scheme for the state schools from the end of this summer term. He intends that parents wanting their four year olds to receive education only in a private or voluntary playgroup or nursery will be able to apply for certificate for the next two terms. Funding will be returned to local authorities to enable them to meet their commitments to fund nursery education in maintained schools.