HC Deb 05 July 1951 vol 489 cc2470-2
11 and 12. Dr. Barnett Stross

asked the Minister of Education (1) what type of meatless dinners are provided in schools; and how many of these are of the type consisting of wholemeal bread sandwiches, with a filling of butter, cheese. and fresh green vegetable, and accompanied by a drink of milk:

(2) how many school children, on an average, have dinner provided at school; and of these meals how many are meatless in type.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Hardman)

Subject to the general requirement that the school dinner shall be well balanced nutritionally and designed as the main meal of the day, the dietaries used are a matter for the discretion of the local education authorities and their expert advisers, who give very careful consideration to the children's nutritional requirements. I cannot, therefore say how many of the 2,600,000 dinners served daily correspond with my hon. Friend's description, but of necessity a proportion of the meals are based on such foods as cheese rather than meat, and the use of uncooked green vegetables is steadily increasing.

Dr. Stross

Is my hon. Friend aware that the type of meal that I have described in this Question was first offered to school children in Derbyshire as their main meal before the war, and not in Oslo as is sometimes thought, and is considered by nutritional experts to be better than the average orthodox meal? In view of the fact that some children do not like meat and find difficulty in eating it, will he consider circularising the local authorities on this point and offering them an alternative?

Mr. Hardman

The advice I have received is contrary to my hon. Friend's suggestion. At present there is a meat allowance for school dinners sufficient to serve meat four days out of five, and we have found that this is the most satisfactory meal and the one most desired by the majority of girls and boys attending school.

25. Mr. Morley

asked the Minister of Education in what way it is intended that the school meals service will be limited.

Mr. Hardman

There is no intention to limit the school meals service. As my hon. Friend knows, building to extend the service in existing schools was stopped in the autumn of 1949. The effect of the defence programme is that the resumption of building for this purpose will have to be postponed.

Mr. Morley

If there is no intention of limiting school meals, why did my hon. Friend say, last Thursday, that they were to be limited?

Mr. Hardman

I did not say that. I said on Thursday last that there would be a postponement of the increases which we had envisaged. We regret the postponement, but the fact is it will take a longer time to reach the capital expenditure which we would have put in our programme.

Dr. Stross

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind, however, that without extensions and without cooking it is possible to offer quite substantially good meals?

Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite

Does the Minister's reply cover temporary structures which have been approved for the provision of dining rooms, or does he mean only permanent structures?

Mr. Hardman

If the work is necessary to extend an existing building it will not be reduced, and adequate dining facilities will be part of every new school to be constructed or at present under construction. That is as far as I can go.

Mr. Llewellyn

Is it not a fact that the school meals' service has been limited recently owing to the increase in cost, with the consequence that a number of children are now unable to pay for the meals?

Mr. Hardman

No, Sir, I would not admit that.

Sir H. Williams

As the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Morley), has drafted a Question that the hon. Gentleman has failed to understand, is it not desirable that both of them should have a course in English?

Mr. Hardman

I am quite willing to take on the hon. Gentleman.

26. Mrs. Eirene White

asked the Minister of Education when he expects that school meals will be provided at Bronington V.P. school.

Mr. Hardman

Acceptable arrangements for the provision of meals at Bronington Church of England School have been proposed by the local education authority for Flintshire. The. arrangements are, however, linked with proposals to improve the sanitary accommodation at the school, and part of the cost of these proposals will have to be borne by the school managers if the school is to be a voluntary aided school, as they wish. So far, the managers have not been able to satisfy my right hon. Friend that they have sufficient financial resources to sustain voluntary aided status.

Mrs. White

Is my hon. Friend aware that discussions on this matter have been going on since 1949, and does he not think that with a little good sense and good will on both sides the matter might be brought to a conclusion?

Mr. Hardman

Yes, Sir. We last got in touch with the managers on 14th June last, and we are hoping for a reply very quickly.

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