HC Deb 28 June 1937 vol 325 cc1639-40
39. Mr. Drewe

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education whether he is aware that there are 165 schools in Devonshire, with 3,731 children, where no supply of fresh milk is available; that difficulty is being experienced in obtaining supplies owing to the low price that the producer receives; and what action he proposes to take in this matter?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education (Mr. Kenneth Lindsay)

It appears from the returns from the Devonshire schools showing the position on 31st March, 1937, that of the 514 public elementary school departments in the administrative county there were 113 departments, containing 4,543 children, in which no fresh milk was provided. In 19 of these departments, containing 756 children, various forms of dried milk were provided. In about 87 of the 401 departments where fresh milk was available it was provided outside the milk-in-schools scheme at the ordinary retail price. I am aware that difficulty is being experienced in obtaining supplies of milk in this and certain other rural areas because the suppliers claim that the distribution allowance under the milk-in-schools scheme is insufficient. The future of this scheme is one of the questions which falls for consideration in connection with long-term milk policy, a matter to which the Government are giving close attention, and in this connection the difficulty to which my hon. Friend refers will not be overlooked.

Mr. Drewe

When does my hon. Friend expect that the Government will be able to make some statement as to what terms producers will be given?

Mr. Lindsay

That question should be addressed to the Minister of Agriculture.

Mr. T. Williams

How does the hon. Gentleman reconcile the statement that supplies are not available when over 390,000,000 gallons are going to the manufacturers; and ought not the distributors who stand in the way of the scheme for providing milk for school children to be removed from the path?

Mr. Lindsay

That is, a question which should be put to the Minister of Agriculture. I understand that it is very largely the small schools and the cost of transport in those areas, but perhaps I had better not go into details of that kind.

Mr. Leach

Is it not the case that the milk shortage in these Devonshire schools is due to the very greatly increased demand for milk caused by the influx of visitors into Devonshire?