§ 1 and 2. Mr. Bence
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what change has taken place in the number of children taking school meals, since the prices of school meals were last increased, in the county of Dunbartonshire; and what is the saving to the education authority;
(2) what change has taken place in the number of children taking school meals, in the burgh of Clydebank, since the prices of these meals were last increased; and what is the saving to the education authority.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. James Stuart)
The number of children taking school dinners in February in the county as a whole was 7,267, including 1,901 in Clydebank. The corresponding figures for June are 6,036 and 1,530. The whole of the authority's net expenditure on school dinners is reimbursed and accordingly no saving to the authority results from the increase in the charges.
§ Mr. Bence
In view of the rising costs of essential foods and of the number of very large families in the county and in 174 Clydebank, does the Secretary of State not think that it would be just as well to reduce the cost of these school meals in order that nutrition may be maintained and the heavy sacrifices that parents are making be rendered unnecessary?
§ Mr. Stuart
The increased charge barely covers the cost of the food alone. It is, perhaps, interesting to note that in the burgh of Clydebank since April, which was after the imposition of the increase, there has been an increase in the number of those taking school meals from 1,415 to 1,530.
§ 19. Mr. G. M. Thomson
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list for each school in Dundee the percentage drop in the number of school meals taken up since the increase in price.
§ Mr. J. Stuart
This information is not available and I should not feel justified in asking the Education Authority for it.
§ Mr. Thomson
Does not the right hon. Gentleman feel it is important to find out whether it is the poorest schools in the cities of this country where the biggest drop in the number of school meals is taking place?
§ Mr. Stuart
We are dealing with a large city with 66 schools. I can tell the hon. Member the figure for Dundee in the aggregate. In February it was 8,840, in April, 7,905, and in June, 7,958. I am glad to say there was a slight improvement of 53 between April and June.