HC Deb 05 August 1971 vol 822 cc1821-2
8. Mr. Spearing

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will now state what proposals she has for guiding education authorities and their medical officers in the certification of pupils in need of free milk in school, so that the preventative aspects can be fully taken into account.

Mr. van Straubenzee

A circular will shortly be issued to local education authorities on the new arrangements for free school milk to be introduced from next September. This will include guidance on administrative aspects of medical certification, but medical opinions will be the responsibility of school medical officers.

Mr. Spearing

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor), when Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, told a deputation from Glasgow City Council that the preventive aspect would be taken into account? Is he further aware that the Secretary of State for Scotland told my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan) in a letter that when a child's health was considered to be at risk a medical officer might give a certificate? Will the hon. Gentleman consider putting these things into the circular?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I will consider all these matters. The hon. Gentleman was an assiduous and effective attender at our debates on the Education (Milk) Bill at every stage, and he will recall that those are almost exactly the same words as I used. I used the phrase "medically at risk", and this met with some approval by medically-qualified Members of the House.

Mr. Buchan

But in the letter which the Secretary of State for Scotland, presumably on behalf of the Government, wrote to me, he made it clear that, first, a local authority could employ general practitioners as temporary medical officers of health in order to undertake a full-scale medical examination of all children in the area, and, secondly, that it would be open to the local authority to decide that "health at risk" was a preventive factor and that milk could be allocated to all the children on that basis? Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I do not enter into matters arising outside England and Wales, and I should be sharply criticised by the hon. Gentleman if I attempted to do so. I have explained the position fully as it relates to England and Wales.