asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has considered the objections of the Fife County Council, transmitted to him by the hon. Member for Fife, East, to the recent decision of the Government to make a further increase in the price of school meals of 1d.; and what action he proposes to take, in view of the likelihood that if parents of the children are required to meet the extra charge the numbers of children benefiting by school meals will seriously decline.
The recent decision was taken because of the need for economy in the Votes for public education. The Government are anxious that no serious decline in the number of children benefiting by school meals should result from the increased charge, and I am sure that education authorities will endeavour to prevent any such decline by making the advantages of the School Meals Service to children and parents fully known in their areas.
Does the right hon. Gentleman recollect that on the last occasion when a similar regulation to this was passed, the number of children benefiting fell by six per cent. in Scotland? Surely he does not want a repetition of that?
It was a very unusual pattern. Some places showed a decrease and some showed an increase. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will use his influence in the area to see that no drop takes place.
In view of the amount of money which will probably be saved by this economy, will my right hon. Friend undertake to look at it again, because the amount of money is out of all proportion to the probable hardship which might be involved?
I regret that I cannot offer such an undertaking.