HC Deb 06 July 1995 vol 263 c501
3. Mr. Clapham

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what projects his Department is funding aimed at improving nutrition for families on income support. [31162]

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mrs. Angela Browning)

We contribute to the work of the nutrition task force to collate and disseminate examples of effective local initiatives and good practice which might assist those on low incomes to follow a healthy diet.

Mr. Clapham

I do not think that the Department is doing enough. The Minister will be aware that there are 4 million children living in families with incomes less than half that of the average family. In other words, they are living below the poverty line. Does the Minister agree that many of those children will be living in families whose only income is income support and that those families will be unable to provide the adequate and nutritious meals which ought to be provided to children? Is not the health of those children being harmed? Is the Minister aware that many parents are going hungry to ensure that their children receive adequate meals? In the circumstances, does she agree that the Department ought to be doing more?

Mrs. Browning

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman is not fully aware of what the Department is doing. Under the "Health of the Nation" project team, we are contributing to a project—on which a report will be made in October this year—which looks across the lower socio-economic range in terms of nutrition. That project will embrace the people to whom the hon. Gentleman referred. We are funding research by the Institute of Food Research at both Reading and Glasgow universities, and we are also involved in a project by the Joseph Rowntree trust at the London school of hygiene and tropical medicine on one-parent households.

Mr. John Greenway

Does my hon. Friend agree that fresh produce from British farmers and growers—the price of which has fallen below the rate of inflation since 1979—provides every family in this country with the opportunity of a high-nutrition diet? Will she join me in welcoming the Thank the British Farmer campaign that was launched at the royal show this week and in wishing the campaign every success?

Mrs. Browning

I am happy to join my hon. Friend in wishing the campaign well. Basic foodstuffs, such as bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, seasonal vegetables and fruit, play an important role in the diets of people on lower incomes.

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