Sir: John Patten's reflex reaction to the suggestion that nursery education should become universal is to say that 'we cannot afford it'. Perhaps he should put his head together with his colleague Michael Howard, who is having to find more than pounds 22,000 for each additional year he keeps someone in prison. At a reasonable cost of pounds 700 a year for a nursery place, the savings from a reduction of each year of incarceration would justify providing 30 places.
Mr Howard, a self-proclaimed expert on American penal matters, will tell Mr Patten that in the US, those with nursery-school education are five times more likely to avoid a prison sentence than those without.
HARVEY R. COLE