asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what advice she has sent to local education authorities with reference to the pricing policy of milk sold in schools; and if she will make a statement.
Circular 12/71 advised local education authorities that the charge should cover the cost of the milk and the expense of providing it.
Will the right hon. Lady confirm that if local education authorities are to abide strictly by circular 12/71 they have to charge twice the cost of the milk? In the light of that, will she follow the practices of some of her Cabinet colleagues and accept that she has made a wrong decision and reintroduce free milk for all primary school children?
I cannot confirm the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. On the contrary, the variation in charges for school milk is considerable. Some authorities are providing it for little above the wholesale cost while for others it is costing a good deal more. So long as the authorities balance their account for milk over the area they do not have to charge specifically the cost at a specific school.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are still many primary schools where milk is not available for the parents who wish to buy it? Will she do everything she can to see that those schools' local education authorities make the milk available to parents who wish to purchase it for their children?
My hon. Friend has raised an extremely important matter. Only just over 30 education authorities are selling milk. I understand that where it is being sold the scheme is very successful. From what I have seen when going about the country myself, I understand that many parents are prepared to pay for the milk, but it must be on sale.
Will the right hon. Lady consult her right hon. Friend the Home Secretary with a view to increasing the provision in prisons to cater for the number of Labour councillors who are refusing to implement her school milk policy, so that we can ensure that if the children cannot receive free milk the councillors can go to gaol?
The hon. Gentleman is quite capable of putting that abstruse point to my right hon. Friend himself.