HC Deb 08 June 1967 vol 747 cc1270-1
19. Mr. Charles Morrison

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will give an undertaking that the present charge to parents for school meals will not be abolished.

Mr. Crosland

I am still considering this matter in the light of the Report of the Estimates Committee.

Mr. Morrison

On 13th April the right hon. Gentleman said that there would be no early answer on the review of school meal prices and he has now reiterated it. Is it not time that a decision was taken, bearing in mind the steadily increasing cost both to ratepayers and taxpayers and the money needed for higher educational projects?

Mr. Crosland

As the hon. Gentleman will know from listening to the very varied range of supplementary questions always asked on this subject, it is a very complicated and controversial matter. It would not be right to hurry a decision. I am pursuing this investigation with what I hope is reasonable expedition but without undue haste.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that, whilst the Estimates Committee made recommendations, they were based exclusively on the economic and financial arguments concerned and did not and could not relate to the very important—indeed, more important—social implications of any change of policy?

Mr. Crosland

I entirely agree. If one viewed this simply as a financial or economic matter it might be a plain case for one to make up one's mind, but my hon. Friend is right in saying that a large number of social and welfare considerations come into it which would make it foolish to rush a decision.