HC Deb 10 December 1928 vol 223 cc1733-6W

asked the President of the Board of Education (1) how many local education authorities in South Wales and Durham are carrying out in the schools the process known as medicinal feeding; of what diet does this process consist; and whether he is exerting any influence upon the authorities to adoptthis process in preference to the provision of meals as allowed under the Education (Provision of Meals) Act;

(2) how many local authorities in the mining districts of South Wales and Durham have adopted the Education (Provision of Meals) Act and are providing meals on the ground that children 'are hungry; how many authorities have not done so; and whether he has influenced the policy of the education authorities in this matter

(3) if he has made recommendations to the local education authorities as to the frequency of medical examination of all children in the schools of the distressed areas; and what length of time, computed on an average of all these children, elapses between one examination and the next when these are undertaken for the discovery of such malnutrition as the Board considers requisite for the provision of school meals?


Of 20 local authorities in the mining districts of South Wales and Durham, 12 are already providing meals for school children, two are preparing to do so, and six are not, so far as I know, providing any meals. Five of the authorities who are now providing meals are doing so on a medical basis of selection, and I understand that one other authority is preparing to adopt this basis. Some months ago I communicated with the local education authorities in other mining areas suggesting that a special medical survey of the schools should be made before the end of the summer term. As a result of this survey, feeding has now been undertaken in certain of these areas also. Children selected on a medical basis may be provided with ordinary dinners, or with special nourishment such as milk, cod-liver oil, and malt. I have emphasised the importance of local authorities making adequate provision for mal-nourished children on many occasions during the course of this last year, and I have pointed out some of the advantages of the medical basis of selection as compared with the income basis, but have pith no pressure upon them to adopt the former in preference to the latter. Where the medical basis is adopted I have urged that borderline oases should be re-examined at frequent intervals, and that the schools as a whole should be periodically re-surveyed. In certain cases arrangements are also made for the temporary feeding of children between the visits of the medical officers, if the head teacher has reason to believe that any child is not receiving sufficient food.

Perhaps I may add that the distinction which appears to be drawn in the hon. Member's questions between medicinal feeding and feeding children who are hungry is based on a misapprehension. "Malnutrition" for this purpose means that the child is "unable by reason of lack of food to take full advantage of the education provided for" it. This is the test prescribed by the Education Act, and the distinction is between selection on this basis by medical inspection and supervision of the children themselves and selection according to the size of the parents' income.


asked the President of the Board of Education (1) what number of Glamorgan children in the elementary schools are receiving milk and malt; whether these children are improving in health and physique; are they receiving the nourishment for seven days weekly or for school days only; and what percentage of the cost will he borne by the Board?

(2) What percentage of children in the Glamorgan elementary school area who are attending school are in need of food; and, if there are any, will he make a grant for that purpose?


In the schools which have been surveyed by the Glamorganshire Education Authority the percentage of mal-nourished children was found to vary between 9 and 8.9. The number of school children receiving milk during the week ending 30th November was 698, of whom 57 were given, in addition, cod-liver oil and malt. I am advised that the improvement in health and physique shown by children who have received this treatment for some time is clearly marked. I understand it is provided on school days only. Grant is payable by the Board on the authority's net expenditure at the rate of 50 per cent.


asked the President of the Board of Education if he will inquire into the cause of the decrease in attendance in the Glyncorrwg group area for the three weeks ending 30th November as compared with the preceding three weeks ending 9th November, giving each school separately?


Yes, Sir; I have already set on foot inquiries into this matter.


asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware that about 2,000 men are idle at Cwmfelinfach, Ynysddu, and the immediate neighbourhood in consequence of the colliery being stopped; that at Bedwas and Tre Thomas the same number of men are idle as a result of the Bedwas colliery stoppage; that at neither of these places are the men, so far, in receipt of unemployment benefit; that no less than 3,000 miners at Tredegar are on the unemployed register through the collieries being stopped, and that in every mining district in Monmouthshire without exception large numbers are unemployed; whether in any of these places the children are being fed in the elementary schools; and, if not, will he order an immediate inquiry into the condition of these children?


The Monmouthshire Education Authority have instructed their medical officer to make frequent and careful surveys of the conditions in their area, and according to my latest information 818 children were being fed by them. I cannot at the moment say whether school meals are being provided in the places mentioned by the hon. Member, hut I will make inquiries and let him know.