§ 31. Mrs. Renée Short
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals he has for improving the school meals service.
§ Mr. Redhead
I refer my hon. Friend to the Department's Circular 3/66 to local education authorities and to the Report of the Working Party on the Nutritional Standard of the School Dinner published on the 26th January, copies of which I am sending to my hon. Friend.
§ Mrs. Short
I thank my hon. Friend. I have seen that circular. Would he accept that there are two main problems: first, too much stodge and therefore too many overweight schoolchildren, and, secondly, too many old, ill-equipped school kitchens left as a legacy by the previous Government? Will my hon. Friend therefore take steps to provide enough money to improve the situation and make sure that school cooks take refresher courses to improve their standards?
§ Mr. Redhead
I am sure that mature consideration of the Report to which I have referred will lead to an easement of the problems about which my hon. Friend has spoken. If she has studied that document, she will realise that the objective in following its recommendations is to increase the variety and nutritional value of school meals.
Mr. J. E. B. Hill
Would the hon. Gentleman agree that, if he has sampled school meals, as I have, they are astonishingly good value and that he would do better to consider charging rather more—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—since he told me last week that an extra 3d. would result in no falling off of consumption and would provide him with £8½ million which would enable him to restore the whole of the mini-minor programme and other building cuts, much to the relief of the schools, teachers and delighted parents?