Newspaper review: Papers critical of nursery plans

Papers

There is scepticism in many papers about the government's plans to allow nursery staff in England to look after more children as a way of bringing down the cost of childcare.

In the Daily Telegraph's view, changing the ratios makes it more likely that a two-tier system will develop, with some nurseries sticking to the old system and increasing their charges for a "better" service.

For the Guardian, the danger is that quality will suffer as numbers rocket in places where parents have no choice but to go with the cheapest nursery.

Alison Phillips, in the Daily Mirror, believes the changes will be all about "warehousing" children rather than caring for them.

As for a childminder being able to take her youngsters for a trip to the park or to feed the ducks, it will be impossible, she says.

Tax breaks

The Daily Telegraph leads with a warning by military chiefs that the SAS and other special forces units are under threat from a new round of coalition defence cuts.

According to the paper, senior commanders fear the quality of the special forces could be undermined if defence spending is cut again in 2015.

It says the potential threat has been discussed in Whitehall as the Ministry of Defence tries to fight off Treasury demands for more budget cuts.

For its main story, the Times says David Cameron is under mounting pressure to push through tax breaks for married couples as a way of averting a Tory rupture over gay marriage.

Cabinet sources have told the paper that the Budget would be "a good time to placate an awful lot of people".

It says MPs plan to use the coming weeks to warn a reluctant chancellor that he will increase the risk of losing lifelong Tories from the party unless he acts.

Previous convictions

A suggestion by the Metropolitan Police commissioner that employees should face mandatory drug testing at work makes the lead for the Daily Mail.

The paper reports that Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe told an all-party parliamentary group that anyone who failed a test and refused help to stop taking drugs should lose their job.

He said testing could take place in all occupations but particularly among teachers, intensive care nurses and transport staff.

The Sun is concerned about the impact on children of the Court of Appeal ruling that the law requiring people to disclose all previous convictions to certain employers is a breach of human rights.

Blank cheque

Why are our judges placing the rights of criminals above the rights of children not to be abused, raped or murdered, the paper asks.

Describing the ruling as wrong-headed and dangerous, the paper declares: "Every child in Britain is a little less safe today."

Finally, the Daily Telegraph reports that an artist has left a blank cheque for £8,000 in an art gallery - because he wants to attract more visitors.

Tomas Georgeson has hidden the cheque among the works of art at Milton Keynes gallery, and visitors have a month to find it.

The lucky person who does so can write out the cheque to themselves and cash it.

Mr Georgeson promises it will not bounce.

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