HC Deb 20 November 1979 vol 974 cc191-2
5. Dr. Mawhinney

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he intends to authorise an increase in the cost, to parents, of school meals before the Education (No. 2) Bill becomes law.

Mr. Mark Carlisle

I have no plans to do so at present.

Dr. Mawhinney

Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that many Government supporters wish local authorities to cut back on their expenditure, but that if he increases school meal fees prior to the Bill becoming law, many of them will have an excuse not to take a stringent look at their expenditure in a way in which they would have to if the school meal charge were retained at 30p?

Mr. Carlisle

I am grateful for what my hon. Friend said. Our desire is to get the Education (No. 2) Bill through in time to allow local authorities to have freedom for the whole of the next financial year to decide what they consider to be the most appropriate ways of saving money in the area of school meals.

Mr. Gwilym Roberts

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept that the cost of this Government to parents is terrible, anyway, and that we, at least, appreciate this small crumb from his table? Will he now reconsider the proposals in the Bill? The only effect of the Bill will be to make school meals either prohibitive in cost for the great mass of working class children or unobtainable.

Mr. Carlisle

I certainly do not accept what the hon. Gentleman said. What would be terrible would be if the Government failed to attempt to take control over public expenditure, which would have serious effects on the future economy of this country.