HC Deb 04 July 1955 vol 543 cc899-916

10.12 p.m.

Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the Education Authorities (Scotland) Grant (Amendment No. 6) Regulations, 1955 (S.I., 1955, No. 590), dated 19th April, 1955, a copy of which was laid before this House on 25th April, 1955, in the last Parliament, be annulled. My hon. Friends who are supporting me and I desire to have from the Government clarification of certain points. I want to make it perfectly clear at the beginning that I am not against the provisions of these Regulations. I have always felt that meals and milk ought to be free to every child in school. However, the Government's bringing in these Regulations at this time surprises me a little. I should like the Joint Under-Secretary of State to answer these questions. How many pupils will be able to obtain free milk who are not obtaining it now? What will be the cost of providing this free milk to those pupils?

At present, I understand, all pupils in what are known as public schools in Scotland—that is, those schools which are under the control of the local education authorities—receive milk free. I understand that those schools include those schools which get their grant directly from the education authorities. What I am not clear about is this. Do pupils in schools which get their grant directly from the Department of Education receive free milk, or are they now brought in under these Regulations?

The Joint Under-Secretary of State nods, and I take it that those pupils are now getting free milk, so that these Regulations bring in now pupils from only one class of school in Scotland—the independent schools, schools which, at present, get no grant for any purpose, either from the local education authority or from the Department of Education, schools like Glasgow Academy, Fettes, and Loretto.

That is why I am surprised that the Government brought forward these Regulations. Were representations made to the Secretary of State to have these schools covered by the Regulations? If they were, by whom were they made? Were they made by the governors of the schools, or did the pupils' parents make representations to the governors so that the matter might be brought to the attention of the Secretary of State for Scotland? Were the Regulations brought forward because the parents of pupils at these schools are finding that times are more difficult than they were hitherto?

These are important questions which we on this side of the House would like to have answered tonight. I welcome the Regulations. I have always thought it wrong that in our public schools, as was the case when I was teaching in them, there were children who received free milk and children who paid for the milk. There was always a social stigma attached to those children who had received free milk.

Is it because that might be happening in the schools which are now covered by the Regulations that the Regulations have been made? Or is it that the Government, who have had to impose extra charges on meals for children in the public schools, with the result that some children are no longer able to have the meals, feel that the economic position is so good that they are able to extend this very worth-while provision of free milk?

10.18 p.m.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

I beg to second the Motion.

We are entitled to ask the Government a few questions about these Regulations and their genesis. They come rather strangely from a Government whose members not long ago were attacking food subsidies and saying that the country was subsidising people who did not need to be subsidised and that that was not a proper way of helping people. Here, the Government are extending to private schools a useful subsidy which is at present confined to public schools—and in Scotland by "public schools" we really mean public schools, that is, schools which are public in every sense of the word. English Members would call these private schools "public schools." They are schools that are out-with the management and control of the education authority or even the Government themselves, apart from the inspection of the schools.

How many schools are involved? Did the schools ask for this provision and have the parents whose sons and daughters are being educated in these schools been asked to give their opinion? Do they want subsidised milk? One hears so many sneers about subsidised milk. It should not be thought that we on this side of the House intend to oppose the principle. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) I remember only too well, when I started teaching in the Gorbals in 1931 or 1932, the children who received free milk. Their fathers were unemployed, they were cast aside, they were "on the parish." One could pick the children out by the suits which they were wearing.

The free milk scheme which was started in 1934 was not intended to help the children, but to get rid of surplus milk. I have had that admission in a letter from the Secretary of State for Scotland, who writes: It is true that when milk was first supplied to schools at reduced prices in 1934, the immediate purpose of the arrangement was to find a useful outlet for surplus milk. The Labour Party at that time thought, as we still think today, that all children in schools should get the milk because it is good for them and because they need it. We also think that they should get it free. We often hear the accusation made against us that in 1934 we voted against the provision of this milk for school children. What we voted against was the people having to pay for it. We thought the children should get it free.

During the war the scheme was changed, and free milk for schools was provided. The reasons for that were different from those in 1934. During the war milk was scarce and it was not provided in the schools to help the dairy farmers get rid of a surplus, but because of the nutritional policy of the Government. The Government realised that it was good for pupils in the public schools of Scotland to have free milk, so it was provided.

This question of the nutritional value policy of the Government concerns us now. We want to know why this free milk is to be given to those in private schools. Why has this beneficial and nutritional commodity which has been denied these children so long to be given to them now? Have complaints been received by the Government from the parents of children who are paying for their children at St. Chad's and suchlike places?

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

St. Trinian's.

Mr. Ross

St. MacTrinian's. We should like to know why the Government have now decided to give these children the benefit of free milk.

Once again, I will read from the letter of the Secretary of State on this subject: … the milk in schools scheme, as we know it today, was started during the war—not when milk was plentiful but when it was very scarce. The scheme was designed to play an important part in national nutritional policy, and it is on that basis that it has continued. I assume that it is on that basis that it is now being extended to St. Trinian's, St. Chad's, Fettes College and all the others, places where it is accepted, generally speaking, that the parents would be well able to afford the one-third of a pint of milk supplied to the pupils.

I want to know from the Government why, at this time, they should find it necessary and desirable to come to this House and seek power to provide free, subsidised milk to children who are going to such establishments. There must be some reason for it. We also want to know what this will cost the country and how many children are involved? Not only are we anxious about the cost of the milk, but we want to know whether the local authorities have been consulted about the administrative facilities of doing this and how much it will cost them? Is the administrative cost to be met by a 100 per cent. grant in addition to the cost of the milk?

These are valid questions and, while we welcome the enlarging of this milk scheme to cover these children, we should, at the same time, like to know the answer to these questions.

10.24 p.m.

Mr. James McInnes (Glasgow, Central)

I should like to follow up the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) about the local authorities being consulted. Did the Joint Parliamentary Under-Secretary discuss with them the question of the administrative machine for this addition to the free milk scheme? Has the Scottish Office given any undertaking to the local authorities about a 100 per cent. grant to meet the administrative costs, or, is it the intention, as is outlined in the Explanatory Note, that the purpose is to … extend the purposes for which the Milk Grant may be paid from the Educational (Scotland) Fund.…"? Do I interpret that as meaning that in future there will be a direct payment from the Fund to the schools without encroaching on the work of local authorities, whether those schools are fee-paying, private or any other type? Is there a similar arrangement in operation in England and Wales for schools of a similar character? All these points have to be answered by the hon. Gentleman and I hope that he will clarify the position for us.

10.26 p.m.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

I would like enlightenment on the last paragraph in the second page of these Regulations. It is a legal question which I do not think the Minister could possibly answer, but we have our legal adviser here who can clear up this important point. It is headed "Citation, construction and commencement," which is rather vague, and then it continues: (1) These Regulations may be cited as the Education Authorities (Scotland) Grant (Amendment No. 6) Regulations, 1955. The Education Authorities (Scotland) Grant Regulations, 1948 to 1954, and these Regulations shall be construed as one. Why should they be construed as one? What are they? How many? Could the Solicitor-General explain how many Regulations have been passed between 1948 and 1954 and exactly what they were? This rather obscure terminology should be explained adequately to people who are anxious to understand what these Regulations mean.

There is another question I want to ask. I understand that this milk is supplied in bottles. During the Election I came across a pamphlet in which a Government candidate was being boosted and it stated that his firm manufactured all the milk bottles that were distributed to the children in Scotland. That seemed to me rather a curious state of affairs. Are all the milk bottles supplied to the schools produced by a certain firm of which an hon. Member opposite happens to be a managing director?

Mr. Ross

He is no longer an hon. Member opposite.

Mr. Hughes

Have the Government considered the additional cost of the milk bottles, which certainly enters into the total cost of a meals service grant? Have they considered the additional cost caused by the milk bottle monopoly in Scotland? If so, what are they going to do about it? Here is a serious statement to the effect that all the milk bottles in Scotland are cornered by a glass monopoly. Surely this is a case which the Government should submit to the Monopolies Commission.

As the Government are so keen about reducing national expenditure, I should like to know whether this matter has been drawn to their notice and what steps they propose to take to reduce the expenditure on milk bottles in order to ensure that the children and the community are not exploited by a milk bottle monopoly. We ought to probe this because it is an item of national expenditure. I should be glad if the legal point and also the question of the cost of the milk bottles could be cleared up.

10.31 p.m.

Mr. James H. Hoy (Leith)

I want to raise a question dealing with administration. Different types of school receive educational grants. There are certain schools in Edinburgh, such as the merchant companies' schools, on the boards of which the local authorities have direct representation because they receive educational grants in the same way as other schools do. I understand that such schools get their milk free in the same way as the public schools do.

Other schools in an altogether different category will be included if the Regulations are passed. Certain schools like Fettes College—I would not suggest that it was the rumour that we may have a distinguished entrant to it which gave rise to the Regulations—would be included in the free milk scheme.

If schools which have difficulty and want Government grants apply for them, they have to make arrangements for representation of the local education authorities on their boards. If schools like Fettes College and Loretto are to receive these grants—they are indirect grants in support of the pupils in those schools—will there be representation for the purposes of looking after the public money which will be expended for the purpose? If there is not to be local authority representation, then I should like to know how the Government propose to make the payments. Are they to be made direct to the schools concerned? If not, how is the expenditure to be checked by the Department of Education?

These seem to be questions of some importance which certainly call for a reply. I should also like to know whether such a scheme is in force in any other part of the country. Do the counterparts of these schools in England, such as Eton and Harrow—I do not know whether we could go as far as inquiring about Oxford and Cambridge—have this milk scheme? It may be that this is an innovation. We do not know, but we expect the Government to make it clear.

10.34 p.m.

Colonel Alan Gomme-Duncan (Perth and East Perthshire)

There seems to be a misapprehension on the part of hon. Members opposite on the subject of whether or not pupils in the schools we are discussing should have free milk or not because their parents might be able to afford to pay for it. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If that is not the reason, then I see no object in having raised the subject at all, because there are plenty of parents of children in public schools who could also well afford to pay for the milk received by their children but do not do so.

I do not think that the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Hoy) need have any doubts about the expenditure being properly checked. Receipts for the money spent on milk can be produced in the ordinary way. I do not think there is any difficulty in the point.

Mr. Hoy

The hon. and gallant Gentleman mistakes the point. Local authorities have direct representation upon the boards of ordinary schools to which these grants are made. All I am asking is if this is to be an exception, and if so, what responsibility is there?

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

I would thank the hon. Gentleman for making that clear. But I should have thought that it was perfectly clear. We do not require a representative of the local authority to check what the expenditure has gone on, because there are receipts produced to the auditor. We do not require the local authority to emphasise that. I think that it is clear on both points.

10.35 p.m.

Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)

I wish to make it quite clear to the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) that there is no opposition to these Regulations from hon. Members on this side of the House. We believe that children should get the milk, but we wish to be assured on certain points. As has been said, the introduction of milk to the public schools in Scotland, at least, was the result of necessity. We want to be sure that the introduction of milk to these private schools is not the result of necessity which may be to some extent due to the fact that we have a Tory Government in power at present.

We all know Fettes College, one of the schools concerned, where, as has already' been hinted, there may in due course be a distinguished pupil. That is a school where the parents pay £300 a year for the education of their children. We wish to be assured that the education provided for that money will not be spoilt by the lack of a glass of milk. We are unanimous in our belief that the glass of milk ought to be provided, once, twice or even three times a day, if necessary.

I hope that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is now clear about our attitude, and that we are raising this point in order to make sure that the scheme will work well. Our attitude is purely altruistic. We are thinking of the children—[Laughter.] I am sorry that a statement of that kind should provoke laughter from hon. Gentlemen on the Tory benches. I hope that it will be noted by the public that when we were seeking to get a glass of milk per day, not for one class of child in Scotland, but for all the children in Scotland, the Tories could only sit and laugh.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

I thought that these Regulations, issued by the Government, were being opposed by the Opposition.

Mr. Rankin

It seems to me that any opposition which has been manifested has come from the supporters of the Government. It is strange that they have not put their support into words, and that the only support which has been evident is a laugh. I am doubtful about the nature of that support.

There is one point on which I should like some further information. Regulation I refers to the net recognisable ex- penditure incurred by an authority and states that there will be a grant at the rate of 100 per cent. of the net recognisable expenditure incurred by an authority… Under the heading, "Meal Service Grant," there is a reference to education authorities. Is the word "authority" used in the same sense as it is used in Regulation 1? I ask that because in Regulation 1 it is spelt with a capital "A," while in sub-paragraph (c) of paragraph 3 it is spelt with a small "a." Does that mean that it is referring to the education authority or some other authority—for instance, the particular authority which controls a particular school? That is an important point, and I hope that the Joint Under Secretary will clear up that point for the benefit of my hon. Friends.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan rose——

Mr. Rankin

I am just about to finish.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

I simply want to ask what the hon. Member is getting at. He says that in Regulation 1 "authority" is spelt with a capital "A" and in sub-paragraph (c) with a small "a," but if he looks more closely he will see that in Regulation 1 it is spelt both with a capital "A" and a small "a."

Mr. Rankin

I hope that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is not going needlessly to confuse his own Front Bench. I am trying to confine the matter to relatively simple terms.

We are to supply this milk, but when it comes to the schools will it be served out to the boys and girls by the teachers? Glasgow education authority has a special staff for this work. There was a period when teachers had to do the work, but there is a general feeling that these useful services in schools ought not to be jobs which are added to the tasks of the teaching staff; and there is a feeling among teachers that, beneficient and necessary though it is, this is work which teachers should not be called upon to do.

Therefore, in Glasgow they have staffs of schools attendants who make it their particular duty to serve out the milk; and these staffs are paid for, and are on the strength of the education authority. I ask, therefore, how is the milk to be served; are the teachers to do that work, or has there been an arrangement for the creation of staffs for this purpose? These are points to which there should be an answer; hon. Members are entitled to a reply, and I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary will be able to satisfy us on them.

10.44 p.m.

Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

There are two observations I wish to make, and the first is that it must by now be evident to the House that we on this side are strongly in favour of what we think is the beneficial intention of this Statutory Instrument; but, secondly, there is some doubt as to what this Statutory Instrument means. I have long thought that these Statutory Instruments should not be couched in such language as to leave doubt about what they mean. Several good and cogent points have been made from the benches on this side about the benefits which we think will flow from this particular Statutory Instrument, but I do suggest to the Joint Under-Secretary that he should consult the Lord Advocate, or the Solicitor-General for Scotland—but, perhaps, more properly, with the Prime Minister—with a view to having these Statutory Instruments drawn in a slightly different form.

I make what I hope is a practical suggestion, and it is that these Statutory Instruments should contain, where necessary, something of the nature of a definition clause.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

And illustrations.

Mr. Hughes

I would not go as far as to say that they should be illustrated with pictures.

Some cogent points have been made in the debate. My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) asked about the meaning of Regulation 2, another hon. Member asked what "any school" means, another asked about the meaning of the phrase "at the rate of 100 per cent." I am sure the House will agree that if these Statutory Instruments have any importance—and I believe they have—they should not be left in doubt of this kind. Every phrase should be explicable to those who have to understand them and administer them. It is wrong that public authorities should be confronted with documents the meaning of which is not readily appreciated, and that meaning could be put beyond doubt by the adoption of my suggestion that where necessary there should be a definition clause to define phrases concerning which doubts may arise.

I offer that suggestion to the Ministers, who expect local authorities to administer these Regulations. It is not right that local authorities should be placed in this dilemma, and I hope that the present practice will be changed.

10.47 p.m.

Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)

I should not have intervened in the debate but for the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes), speaking of various schools, mentioned Oxford and Cambridge. We have been told that in certain schools it is proposed that boys, aged from 12 to 19, should each be given a daily glass of milk.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Bottles and straws.

Mr. Bence

I am given to understand that those boys are being prepared for university life at Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Oxford and Cambridge. I do not know much about the Scottish Universities, but I understand that at Oxford boys, provided they are in academic dress, are entitled to demand a bottle of claret.

Mr. McInnes

Is my hon. Friend suggesting that students at Glasgow University are provided with claret?

Mr. Bence

My hon. Friend misunderstands me. I was speaking of Oxford. I do not know what they drink in Glasgow.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Charles MacAndrew)

I think that if we confine ourselves to Scotland we shall get on better.

Mr. Thomas Steele (Dunbartonshire, West)

Is my hon. Friend aware that at one time at Fettes College they had beer?

Mr. Bence

Beer is very important in the British way of life. Yet we are talking of bringing them up on milk and then plunging them into university life where the common drink is beer or claret. They will be quite unfitted for that life. It is unfair to bring boys up in a sheltered life and then to plunge them into this wild life of many of our universities where they drink claret. I do not know what claret is like, but it seems to me that if these boys are to have claret when they get to university, we should give them a taste of it before they get there.

I do not want to see children brought up on milk and then sent out into the world to drink claret. I cannot agree with my hon. Friend, in view of this, that this is a good thing. If these boys going to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Oxford and Cambridge continue to drink milk it would not be so bad, but if after 18 and 19, having lived on milk, they are then being plunged into claret and beer, the consequences may be very serious indeed. So I hope the Government will reconsider this when it comes to lads of 18 to 19 years of age, who, having a regular glass of milk and never having tasted claret or beer, go to Oxford, Cambridge, Glasgow or Edinburgh, to be plunged into a circle where the daily glass of liquid refreshment is beer or claret. They will not be used to it.

10.51 p.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. J. Henderson Stewart)

It is useful that the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) has initiated this debate, because it may be that some hon. Members are under a misapprehension and it is better to clear that up at once. I note that, with one exception, hon. Members opposite have welcomed these Regulations, extending through the medium of the local education authorities the provision of free milk to all children in schools. It is a pity, of course, that the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) does not believe in it. I do not know whether in Wales they plunge people into barrels of claret and beer, but in our country, so far as I know, no such immersion is part of the life.

Mr. Bence

I have since been informed that downstairs they sell stuff in a bottle called "Bristol Milk." Can the House be assured that this milk here is not Bristol Milk, because I have been told that the milk down there is not milk at all—it is sherry.

Mr. Stewart

I have never heard of Bristol Milk. What the hon. Member does in his spare time is very interesting. The fact is—and I give hon. Members this absolute assurance—that this does not extend the provision of free milk to a single boy or girl in Scotland who is not now getting it. It is purely machinery, as I shall explain.

Hon. Members will recall that subsidised milk for schools was introduced about 1934. It was associated with the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot), and that went on with the approval of all parties up to the outbreak of the war. At the beginning, the service was undertaken by the Agricultural Departments in England and Scotland and paid for out of their Votes. In 1940, when the Ministry of Food was formed, that Ministry took over that particular job. But, right through until 1946, it was not a free milk service. It was not until that year, under the then Government——

Mr. Ross

A "wicked" Labour Government.

Mr. Stewart

—that it became an entirely free service.

The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) was a little wrong when he said it was free from the end of the war. The credit belongs to his hon. Friends. But in the middle of the war, whereas up to then it had been confined to children in local authority schools in Scotland, it was extended on nutritional grounds to all children in all schools. So by 1946, when the hon. Lady and her hon. Friends came into power, they had a situation before them. It is interesting to note what they did. They issued a regulation in the early part of 1946, and in the usual course they sent round a circular explaining it. I am reading from the circular, dated 12th June, 1946. Paragraph 8 (a) says: As intimated in Circular 64 dated 28th March, 1946, the Government has decided to make school milk free of charge in all grant-aided primary and secondary schools.… That was in June, but just a month later, on 22nd July, 1946, the Scottish Education Department sent round another letter to the authorities saying: I am directed by the Secretary of State to inform you that the Ministry of Food have arranged that pupils under 18 years of age in full-time attendance at non-grant-aided schools are to be included in the free School Milk Scheme which begins on 6th August, 1946. In other words, the Labour Government of that time extended the provision of free milk to all Scottish schools, Fettes and everywhere else. That has been the rule since 1946, and it is the rule now.

Up to last year, the servicing of milk in schools was run by the Ministry of Food. In 1949, the Public Accounts Committee presented to the House a fairly strong recommendation to the effect that since this was so much an educational service it ought to be run by the Ministry of Education and the Department of Education. We took note of that and last year a regulation was issued transferring to the Scottish education authorities the servicing of the scheme to their schools. This year, when the Secretary of State has taken over practically all the functions of the Ministry of Food in Scotland, we have cleaned the thing up and the Scottish Education Department is now taking over the last remaining section, which up to now has been operated by the Ministry of Food, the distribution of milk to non-grant-aided schools.

I repeat that this is no more than a machinery measure. Not one child who has not been getting the milk up to now will get it in future; one hopes, of course, that it will be extended.

The hon. Lady asked one or two specific questions, which I am happy to answer. She asked how many pupils there were, the cost, and so on. The number of schools in Scotland not under the management of education authorities—schools referred to in the Regulations—whose pupils will receive milk under the Regulations is 230, comprising 33,000 pupils out of a total school population of over 800,000 in Scotland, and the cost will be £61,000 a year out of the total expenditure on milk in schools in Scotland of £1½ million.

One or two hon. Members asked if the local authorities have been consulted. The answer is "yes," and they have very generously agreed to carry out their part of the scheme. In the 1946 Act local authorities were given the duty to distribute milk in schools and the power to distribute to non-grant-aided schools. We thank them both for carrying out that duty and exercising that power. I think they deserve the thanks of this House for the way in which they have agreed to do the work.

The hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Hoy) asked how the scheme was to be operated. It will be operated in these other schools exactly as it is operated in local authority schools now. In regard to bottles, the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) will know that each local authority is entitled, if it thinks wise, to send out inquiries as to the supply of milk and the cost and to employ the supplier it regards as the one providing the best milk, or the best service, or the cheapest service. There is nothing new here. There is no question of a monopoly. Local authorities have a right to buy from whom they like.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

The Under-Secretary does not quite understand the point. I do not mean the service relating to the milk bottles. I mean the actual cost of the milk bottles. The suggestion is that these Regulations cover the cost of a service which includes the cost of the milk bottles, and I am sure my local authority will be very pleased indeed, as a local authority cannot submit a question to the Monopolies Commission, if the Government would.

Mr. Stewart

The hon. Member can take what steps he can. This is not the occasion for raising matters relative to the Monopolies Commission. The hon. Member will no doubt exercise his ingenuity and raise this matter later. I give him the assurance that his local authority, like every other authority, is entitled to take into consideration this dread problem of the milk bottles and see that the price is right.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes) asked me about administrative costs. As I have shown by the figures, this is not a very big addition to the duties of local authorities, and they have assured us that they can take it in their stride. If there is any extra work involved the cost will be reimbursed to the local authorities. The hon. Member also asked if the same kind of provision was made for England and Wales. The answer is that the children in England and Wales have enjoyed this privilege for many years, just as our children have.

The hon. Member for South Ayrshire was a little troubled about the definition of Regulation 2. Actually, there is nothing very difficult about it. One does not have to be a lawyer to follow this. Regulation 2 (1) does what all other measures of this kind do, namely, it links this one up with its predecessor so that these Regulations should be regarded as one.

The hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) made an interesting and, I am sure, constructive suggestion, namely, that we should have definitions. That is quite true. But, of course, these Regulations, as the hon. and learned Member knows, are linked with previous Regulations, and these previous Regulations, particularly those passed by his hon. and right hon. Friends in 1946, give these definitions. Therefore, I invite the hon. and learned Gentleman to look at them together. In fact, Regulation 2 groups them together, and there he will find all the definitions he can reasonably ask for.

Mr. Hector Hughes

I am sure the Under-Secretary does not appreciate the point I made. I am quite aware that this particular Statutory Instrument is in a form which has been used for many years, but the point I made was this. I suggested he should consult his own Law Officers, though I do not think they are the proper persons to consult in this case. I am not saying that out of any disrespect for the Law Officers. I think this is a matter for the Prime Minister or for some higher authority to consider with a view to making these Statutory Instruments more explicit. The Under-Secretary agrees with the points which were made——

Mr. Speaker

We are not dealing with Statutory Instruments generally, but with the particular one before us at the moment.

Mr. Hughes

A number of cogent points were made by my hon. Friends on this side of the House. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, you were not in the Chair, otherwise you would have appreciated how very cogent they were. They were points which turn upon the construction of this particular Statutory Instrument, and my submission to the Under-Secretary was that these very cogent points would have been obviated, would never have been raised, in fact, if the Statutory Instrument means what we think it meant. It is because we do not know what it means that this Prayer has been moved.

Mr. Stewart

The hon. and learned Member should be happy. If he thinks it means a certain thing, let him be happy to think that—he will sleep more comfortably at night. If the hon. and learned Member should be happy. If he thinks it means a certain thing, let him be happy to think that—he will sleep more comfortably at night. If the hon. and learned Member is in doubt, he should consult the Regulations made in 1948, where he will find a front page of definitions.

The hon. Member for Leith asked about representation on school governing bodies. It has not been thought necessary for all these years by his hon. and right hon. Friends. As he well knows, the local authority, which administers this scheme in other schools, will receive from these schools, as they now receive from their own schools, accounts from the supplier and the consumer and will check the one against the other. I do not think there need be any doubt about anything going wrong in that respect. I should tell the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Rankin)——

Hon. Members

Where is he?

Mr. Ross

Gone to look for the Secretary of State.

Mr. Stewart

I hope the hon. Member will realise that my right hon. Friend has been performing a very high and important duty for the House and the country in recent days. It is rather unfortunate that the hon. Member should cast any aspersions on his splendid performance of that duty.

Mr. Ross

I cast no aspersions.

Mr. Stewart

The hon. Member for Govan asked whether teachers would arrange to carry out the work involved in this scheme. Those responsible for each school will deal with it in the way they think best. The hon. Member well knows the views of the Government which he supported in 1946. The circular which that Government issued contains three paragraphs which stress the importance of the teachers' contribution to the working of the milk scheme in schools. I rather agree with the circular. For example, the then Labour Government said, and I quote from the circular: It is generally accepted that teachers are specially fitted to make a substantial contribution to the educational and social sides of the Meals Service; their association with it, in certain clearly defined ways, will ensure its greater success and may also contribute to still better relations between teachers and pupils generally. As the hon. Member for Govan has said, as we have progressed we have found it necessary to obtain additional people to do this work in the schools, but I am sure that the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North will agree that it would be a great misfortune if the teachers were to withdraw altogether from this highly important social service.

Miss Herbison

Since my hon. Friend the Member for Govan (Mr. Rankin) is not here, I should make it clear that Glasgow employed a milk attendant but that the teachers in Glasgow always helped and still do so today.

Mr. Stewart

I am grateful to the hon. Lady. We know that that has been and still is true.

One is delighted that the Regulations have found general acceptance in the House. I have given an assurance that the Regulations do not involve an extension but merely a change in the machinery of distribution of free milk to all children in Scotland, and I regard that as a social service of the highest order.

Mr. Steele

May I ask the Joint Under-Secretary to look at the Explanatory Note which accompanies these Regulations and to bear in mind, when bringing forward regulations of this kind in future, that if he had put in the Explanatory Note something of the historical background the House would have adjourned shortly after 10 p.m. It is the absence of that information in the Explanatory Note that has kept the House sitting for an hour later than would otherwise have been necessary.

Miss Herbison

In view of the explanation which has been given by the Joint Under-Secretary, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.