HC Deb 31 October 1946 vol 428 cc755-6
1. Mr. Morley

asked the Minister of Education if she is now in a position to say how many school canteens have actually been opened since 1st April, 1946.

The Minister of Education (Miss Ellen Wilkinson)

There was a net increase of 970 in the number of school canteens between February and June, 1946. A further return is now coming in but the results will not be available until December.

Mr. Morley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many local authorities are finding considerable difficulty in getting huts for use as dining rooms, and would she state what steps are being taken to expedite this matter?

Miss Wilkinson

I am surprised to hear that and would like to have particulars because it is not the huts which have been the difficulty. The difficulty has been over a certain amount of the equipment. If the hon. Member will let me have particulars I will look into them.

Mr. Oliver Poole

Can the right hon. Lady say how many canteens have been opened in rural schools?

Miss Wilkinson

Perhaps the hon. Member will give me notice of that question.

2. Mr. Morley

asked the Minister of Education how many education authorities have appointed assistants, other than teachers, to help in the supervision of children during school meals and the midday interval, as suggested by Circular 97, and the total number of such assistants.

Miss Wilkinson

At the beginning of July, 1946, 61 local education authorities were employing assistants, other than teachers, to supervise children at school meals. The number of assistants employed was 3,907.

Mr. Morley

Seeing that only 61 out of 147 local authorities are carrying out the recommendations of the circular, may I ask what steps my right hon. Friend is taking to see that recommendations of this sort are honoured by local authorities?

Miss Wilkinson

I sent out a circular to get that information in July and the rest of the authorities replied stating that they had the matter under active consideration. Most of them were preparing to make some appointments then. I am sending out a further circular to get the final figures, but it is not very much use doing that until December.

Miss Bacon

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that in many schools the difficulty arises not so much in the supervision of the school meal as in the period between the end of the school meal and the beginning of the afternoon session?

Miss Wilkinson

Yes, Sir.

6. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Education if she will provide overalls for teachers who undertake the serving of midday meals in schools.

Miss Wilkinson

No, Sir; the supervision of pupils at meals by teachers is concerned with social training and should not include the serving of food.

Mr. Hurd

Is not the Minister aware that it involves a certain amount of serving? Is it not a reasonable request, and would she not make a personal approach on this matter to the President of the Board of Trade, who is obviously himself sympathetic since he tells the whole world that his clothes are threadbare and that he puts his foot through the sheet when he gets into bed?