HC Deb 22 March 1951 vol 485 cc2556-7
9. Major Guy Lloyd

asked the Minister of Education the net cost per head of school dinners borne by public funds when the charge is increased to 7d.; what was the net cost when the charges were 6d. and 4d., respectively: what were the estimated numbers served at each charge; and how many free dinners were served.

Mr. Hardman

My right hon. Friend cannot, at this early stage, attempt to give an estimate of the average net cost per head of school dinners for 1951–52. Up to January, 1950, the charge varied, but was usually 5d. In 1949–50, 573 million dinners were served at an average net cost to public funds of 9.26d. per meal after allowing for meals supplied free or at a reduced charge. In 1950–51, it is estimated that the number of dinners served will be 552 million at an average net cost of approximately 9.9d. per meal. His returns do not enable him to say how many free dinners were served, but on single days in October, 1949 and 1950, 297,000 and 292,000 children respectively received free dinners.

Sir Waldron Smithers

What is the total cost on an annual basis of these dinners at 9¾d. each, or thereabouts, over and above what is paid by the parents?

Mr. Hardman

The net cost is £25 million per annum; the amount that is collected in payment for dinners is £11½ million.

Mr. D. Griffiths

Is my hon. Friend aware that, whatever the monetary cost, for the value this is to the children it is well worth it?

Mr. Hardman

I quite agree.