The Scottish Government has rejected opposition attempts to bring forward legislation for its own childcare plans and to end "discrimination" in the provision of free nursery care.

SNP politicians backed children's minister Aileen Campbell by turning down two key votes to amend the Children and Young People Bill being scrutinised at Holyrood.

Labour wanted to push the SNP into voting now to enshrine a commitment to give 600 hours of childcare to the "most vulnerable" two-year-olds. The proposal is in step with an announcement last week from First Minister Alex Salmond, who wants to meet that goal, representing 15% of two-year-olds, from August.

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One year later, the Government wants to extend childcare further to 27% of all two-year-olds by widening entitlement to families who receive certain welfare benefits such as income support.

The SNP says that after independence it would provide 1140 annual care hours, for one to four-year-olds, allowing more parents to return to work.

Labour MSP Neil Bibby said that by refusing to act now the SNP was showing a lack of commitment to its own childcare policies which could benefit 30,000 children, saving £2,000 a year for families.

"This would be real action to help with the cost of living and help take children out of poverty," he said.

Stewart Maxwell, the SNP covener of the committee, said using £300 million of money from the UK Government to Scotland showed a gobsmacking degree of financial illiteracy.

He added: "I find it impossible that any member should seriously consider supporting amendments in the name of Neil Bibby."

The children's minister also rejected an attempt to change the way free nursery care is provided.