The Government has signalled that further talks on school holidays could emerge, amid pressure to end the "rotten" system.

Commons Leader Andrew Lansley insisted it would be important to debate the issue as parents seek "relief" from the high costs of holidays during school holiday time while also wanting to ensure their children are educated in school.

English and Welsh school holidays were labelled absurd by Huddersfield Labour MP Barry Sheerman for being based on harvest times and when the mills close down.

Mr Sheerman, former chairman of an influential parliamentary body now known as the Education Select Committee, asked Mr Lansley: "Would you agree it's high time we had a debate on the absurdity of English and Welsh school holidays?

 "The fact is we still base them on getting in the harvest or closing down the mills to look after them.

"It's a rotten kind of system, we need it changed, people are exploited in the school holidays by premium prices.

"Let's get school holidays right."

Mr Lansley replied: "You are absolutely right. I think it is important to have a debate about this because I think it's something parents feel strongly about on both sides of the issue, both in terms of ensuring that children are in school and do have access to their education and aren't absented but also to give parents some relief in relation to the very high cost of the holidays that they have to take during school holiday time."

The issue was debated in Parliament in February after an e-petition on the Government's website demanding ''guilt-free family time'' for parents and a cap on the percentage increase on prices in school holidays secured 168,196 signatures.

Then, acting Consumer Affairs Minister Jenny Willott told MPs holiday prices could fall during peak times as schools are given more control on
setting half-term dates.
 

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She insisted the coalition had no plans to regulate as it was not convinced higher prices during school holidays are caused by ''market abuse'' by the holiday industry, but instead reflect the demand in an international competitive sector.

But Ms Willott added proposals to enable schools greater choice on when to set holidays by next year could result in different break times for
pupils across the country, which would extend the peak holiday period and could help bring prices down.

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