HC Deb 08 November 1971 vol 825 cc631-3
23. Mr. Coleman

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what estimate he has made of the saving to the Exchequer through the withdrawal of free milk supplies to children in Welsh schools.

Mr. Gibson-Watt:

About £400,000 a year in Wales as a result of the withdrawal of free school milk for children aged seven to 11.

Mr. Coleman:

Can the hon. Gentleman estimate how many new places in Welsh primary schools will be provided as a result of this mean and rather miserable saving?

Mr. Gibson-Watt:

As the hon. Gentle-knows, the present Government have put far greater emphasis on the building of new primary schools than did the previous Administration.

Mr. Coleman:

How many?

Mr. George Thomas:

Can the hon. Gentleman say how many children are said by doctors to require milk at school?

Mr. Gibson-Watt:

At present, the Welsh Office is collecting information on the number of children aged between seven and 11 in schools in Wales who are entitled to free milk on health grounds. This information will help us to assess more accurately the savings involved.

39. Mr. Ellis

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many school children in each Welsh county have been examined recently by the school medical service to ascertain whether there are medical reasons necessitating the provision of free school milk to each child.

Mr. Peter Thomas:

This information is not available, but returns currently being received from local authorities in Wales will show the actual numbers of children receiving free milk on the recommendation of School Medical Officers.

Mr. Ellis:

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that as the decision to take school milk away from children in primary schools was taken, as it were, unilaterally by the Government, and in the teeth of opposition from many local education authorities, it was incumbent upon the Government to ensure that adequate machinery was in existence to ensure that nutritional issues were dealt with following their decision?

Further, is the hon. Gentleman aware that many headmasters in Denbighshire who believe that some children are seriously in need of milk are unable to get guidance from education authorities who say that the Welsh Office is unable to guide them?

Mr. Gibson-Watt:

There is adequate machinery to do what the hon. Gentleman requires. Arrangements for the medical examination of school children are a matter for individual local education authorities. The Government are satisfied that the new arrangements for the provision of milk will not have an adverse effect on junior school children.