HC Deb 07 June 1985 vol 80 cc597-8 1.37 pm
Mr. Cohen

The second petition is from Leytonstone Labour party. It is addressed to the Commons of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, and states that there is an urgent need for a food policy to be adopted which will ensure healthier living. It reads:

Wherefore your Petitioners pray to your Honourable House to develop a food policy which integrates the priorities of health, agriculture and environment policy so as to provide a coherent approach for achieving good health and secure food in a suitable environment and that all necessary legislation and administrative arrangements be introduced as a priority for this purpose, particularly with the central aim of achieving a healthier, better-fed nation and a food industry based on sane economic and environmental policies. Furthermore that this be the single unified principle for all Government departments to apply in a co-ordinated manner as opposed to the present short-term, contradictory and often incoherent policies in this matter. That to this end, Her Majesty's Government to use its powers and influence, including those of improving food purchasing policy by itself and all other public authorities as part of a concerted approach by the State. That other elements of a healthier food policy to include: Creating social and economical conditions in which people can afford a good and healthy diet and are able to make sensible decisions about the food they eat and buy;

Helping people improve their own health by ensuring that healthy foods are readily available;

Setting out dietary goals as the basis for food policy;

Support for continuing research into relations between diet and disease, and the development of preventative strategies;

Requiring food labelling to be more informative about methods of production and to relate to dietary goals;

Making sure through health education, that people know enough to use the information on labels in choosing what to eat;

Promoting the development of standard, recognisable codes of symbols as part of the system of informative labelling;

Support the development of consumer surveys to discover attitudes to diet and health, to improve consumer understanding and enhance the trend towards a healthier diet;

Drawing up a new code of practice on food and drink advertising aimed at increasing the factual and informative role and limiting unsubstantiated claims;

Strengthening food regulations to ensure that food manufacturers improve the nutritional value of their product and willing the means of enforcement of such regulations and standards with an effective and sufficiently staffed inspectorate;

Expanding resources available to the Health Education Council to mount effective nutrition campaigns, including campaigns to assist special needs groups in society such as pregnant women, babies and children, the elderly and the chronically sick;

Co-ordinating existing health authority initiatives and laying down guidelines for extending their educational role in the community;

Involving family doctors, dentists, health visitors, district nurses and others in the primary and community health services in promoting a healthier diet;

Encouraging schools to give sound dietary advice in both examination and non-examination courses, this to entail examining boards for public examinations adopting the new dietary goals;

Revising the nutritional goals issued to public bodies involved in catering, such as schools, hospitals, prisons, government and local authority canteens and the armed forces, whether the body is directly involved or contracts out the catering;


this is the most important one—

the school meals service, which The Lancer has described as the sheet anchor of child nutrition, with new and improved dietary goals;

Refusing to allow—

this is another important one—

the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Economic Community to, in any way, block or impair the new dietary goals for the nation;

Support and encouragement of research and development into animal breeding and rearing so that far leaner meat and good quality low fat milk is produced to conform better with the new dietary goals;

Working out with those involved in food production and other sectors of the food industry how to safeguard jobs in farming, food processing and retailing, in particular, the trades unions to be involved in planning the changes and opportunities that will arise;

Undertaking a thorough and coherent review aimed at presenting a unified political response right across the spectrum of government.

In addition to these measures, which would have a major relevance to tackling dietary ignorance and over-indulgence, it is recognised that rebuilding the economy, including its restructuring with a redistribution of wealth, is necessary to provide better living standards. This is the single most important contribution to an effective food policy, particularly as poverty is a major cause of poor diets. Therefore, healthier food at prices people can afford is essential, and by improving economic conditions, by changing agricultural policies and by curbing the power of the food and agri-business, people will in effect be provided with a wider choice of healthier foods and also the information that they need to make sensible decisions about their diet.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, etc. I think that you will agree, Mr. Speaker, that that is an important petition. I am pleased to present it to the House. It is signed by 29 members of the Leytonstone Labour party. However, they are representative of a vast number of people throughout the country. I was minded to support the petition.

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