HC Deb 03 May 1972 vol 836 cc368-9
9. Mr. James Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many primary school children in Lanarkshire receive free milk on medical grounds at the latest convenient date; and what this is as a percentage of those medically examined for the provision of such milk.

Mr. Monro

The figure was 21,153 in January, 1972.

I understand that in Lanarkshire the decisions were taken by the medical officer after scrutiny of the pupils' medical records and not after medical examination.

Mr. Hamilton

Would the hon. Gentleman agree that that is a formidable figure and that it is in accord with what is happening throughout Scotland? Would he now agree that the money which the Government were reputed to save by depriving children at primary schools of free milk has proved to be a nonsense? Will he now repeal that measure and give the children in primary schools what they are entitled to, namely, free milk?

Mr. Monro

The hon. Gentleman is very wide of the mark in his figures. Talking in terms of the whole of Scotland, the number of pupils in Lanarkshire is 21,000, which is 45 per cent., but in the whole of Scotland it is 10 per cent. The hon. Gentleman should also bear in mind that medical officers elsewhere in Scotland consider that most primary school pupils are healthy and do not require this supplement to their normal diet.

Mr. MacArthur

Will my hon. Friend tell the House how many secondary school children in Lanarkshire and Scotland were denied free milk by the Labour Government?

Mr. Monro

I have no doubt that the numbers were substantial, but I should need notice of that to be able to give a complete answer.

Mr. Buchan

Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that every fresh piece of evidence demonstrates not only the meanness of the Government's action but the crass stupidity of it? Even if in some areas the figure is as low as 10 per cent. —in some areas it is lower, and in Lanarkshire it is 45 per cent.—does it not show that the scheme is operation on no basis whatsoever when one school gets zero and another gets more than 90 per cent. within the same area, as happened in Aberdeen? The scheme is ludicrous. Will the Government please drop it?

Mr. Monro

Again the hon. Gentleman is wide of the mark with his figures. In Aberdeen Burgh it is 6.63 per cent. and in only 3 authorities is it more than 10 per cent.—Lanark, Midlothian and Glasgow. The important point is that this must be left to the medical judgment of the authorities concerned.

Mr. Ross

The Government are a miserable lot.