HC Deb 18 December 1947 vol 445 cc1840-2
7 and 14. Mr. Symonds

asked the Minister of Education (1) what percentage of local education authorities provide facilities for children to take milk on school premises during school holidays;

(2) how many local education authorities provide facilities for children to obtain milk during school holidays.

Mr. Tomlinson

Forty-five out of the 146 local education authorities, namely, 30.8 per cent., make arrangements for children to attend at certain schools or centres to drink milk supplied under the Milk in Schools Scheme during the holidays.

Mr. Symonds

Is the Minister aware that the number of children enjoying this could be much increased if he did not insist on the milk being consumed on the premises, and is he also aware that at this time of the year parents are very unwilling to send their children on long journeys in cold weather to drink cold milk in cold schools?

Mr. Tomlinson

I am aware of all the difficulties. I know how easy it would be to multiply the number who would benefit if the facilities were available, but they are just not available.

Mr. W. R. Williams

Will the right hon. Gentleman discuss with the Minister of Food the possibility of arranging for the milk to be delivered at the homes of the children and so relieve the anxiety of many mothers who feel that the children are not getting a square deal under the existing arrangements?

Mr. Tomlinson

The difficulties associated with the distribution of milk other than through centres are so great that the possibilities of waste, which have always to be kept in mind, would be considerably increased by attempting to meet those requirements.

Mr. Williams

Is the Minister aware of the very strong feeling among mothers that there is much more waste this way than there would be if arrangements were made on the lines I suggested?

Mr. Tomlinson

There may be a feeling of that sort but it is not justified by the facts. By this method we can entirely prevent waste.

Mr. George Thomas

Is it not a fact that there is a guarantee that the child gets the milk when it is given at a centre? Is it not true that many children would not get the milk if it were not given to them in this way?

10. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Education the total amount of milk and the average amount, per child, consumed during an average school week; whether, generally, any records are required to he kept correlating these figures with the health, height and weight of school children; and if he is satisfied that adequate steps are taken to prevent waste.

Mr. Tomlinson

The average weekly consumption of milk under the Milk in Schools Scheme during October, 1947, is estimated to have been 980,000 gallons, which represents a weekly average of approximately 1.6 pints per child taking milk. I am advised that it would not be practicable to correlate health, height and weight records reliably with these figures. I am satisfied that all concerned are doing their utmost to prevent waste.

Mr. Sorensen

Has the right hon. Gentleman a medical or educational opinion showing that there is some very intimate relationship between the milk consumed by children and their undoubted improvement in health?

Mr. Tomlinson

I have no specific evidence of that kind, but the evidence is in the look of the children themselves.