HC Deb 11 June 1953 vol 516 cc421-2
1. Mr. Morley

asked the Minister of Education the extent of the variation in the number of children partaking of school meals since the rise in the price of such meals.

The Minister of Education (Miss Florence Horsbrugh)

I have no information on this point. I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave on 21st May to the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner).

Mr. Morley

Is the right hon. Lady aware that a daily newspaper which claims to have the largest circulation of any daily newspaper in the country recently stated that in urban areas there has been a reduction of 10 per cent. in the number of children taking these meals since the price was raised; and could she confirm or deny that statement?

Miss Horsbrugh

I could do neither, because I have asked local authorities to get the number of children taking meals on a certain day in June and to let me have the returns at the beginning of July.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is the right hon. Lady not aware that figures have already been published indicating that in the county of Berkshire the number of school meals has fallen by 25,000 in a month?

Miss Horsbrugh

As I say, I do not know; I have no information, and I am waiting for local authorities to give it to me.

9. Mr. Hayman

asked the Minister of Education when quarterly returns from local authorities of school meals were discontinued.

Miss Horsbrugh

Local education authorities were informed in September, 1952, that a return of school meals would in future be required only once a year relating to a day in October.

Mr. Hayman

Seeing that these returns are made on a single day and now only once a year, will the Minister consider asking for quarterly returns again, because it is necessary for the House to keep in close touch with the figures, and the return is a simple one for each teacher?

Miss Horsbrugh

No, I do not think that is necessary, and I am anxious, and I have been asked by the teachers of many schools, to reduce the number of forms which they have to fill in. When I arranged to have the return once yearly instead of quarterly, I also had the form for the return simplified. I think that it is better to have it once a year and then call for a special return on a special occasion, such as I am doing this year.