HC Deb 04 February 1971 vol 810 cc1887-8
7. Mr. Carter

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many education authorities are charging those children who eat sandwiches instead of a cooked lunch.

Mrs. Thatcher

None to my knowledge.

Mr. Carter

While thanking the right hon. Lady for that reassuring reply, may I ask what action she intends to take where local authorities at present do not permit children to eat sandwiches at school?

Mrs. Thatcher

A circular of guidance will shortly go out to local authorities on the whole topic.

18. Mr. Michael Cocks

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what consideration she gave to the food values of various forms of sandwich meal before she decided to increase the price of school meals; and if she will make a statement.

Mrs. Thatcher

None, Sir. The school dinner itself will continue to be suitable as the main meal of the day for those who take it, and there will be no change in its nutritional standard.

Mr. Cocks

I thank the right hon. Lady for that reply. In view of the great care which, as she says, the school meals staff take in producing a balanced diet, I thought that she would have given more thought to a measure that may throw more children on to their own resources for their midday meal. Will she put some guidance in the circular to which she referred when replying earlier to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Carter)?

Mrs. Thatcher

It is not possible to consider the nutritional value of sandwiches as such. As the hon. Gentleman knows, it varies from one sandwich to another. The total cost of the school meal is 2s. 10d. The food part of that is only Is. ld.

Miss Lestor

When it was announced that ultimately the price of the school meal would be the economic cost, did that mean the economic cost at the time the announcement was made or the economic cost at any time in the future when it rises?

Mrs. Thatcher

So far the only provision made has been, first, to raise the cost of the school meal to 12 new pence and then to the full present economic cost, 2s. 10d. or 14 new pence, on the appointed days.

Mr. Loughlin

Will the right hon. Lady accept that it is very easy to be clever and jocular at the Dispatch Box, but that it is totally unfair to do so at the expense of children in primary schools? Will she now answer the question whether she has taken account of the damage that may be done to children as a result of having to take sandwich meals as compared with receiving meals of the nutritional value to which they have been accustomed?

Mrs. Thatcher

If there is any nutritional damage, the matter will undoubtedly be very quickly brought to my attention by the Chief Medical Officer. Already about 635,000 children receive free school meals, and the number is expected to rise to 800,000 as a result of measures the Government have taken.