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School Milk

Volume 930: debated on Wednesday 27 April 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the total cost of supplying free milk to schools over the last year and what was the cost to State schools only.

The cost to education authorities of supplying free milk in the year ending 31st March 1976 was approximately £1·9 million. Some 98 per cent. of the pupils supplied were in education authority schools.

Is the Minister aware of the strong sense of grievance felt by parents who are denied free milk for their children simply because they are paying for their children's education at the same time as contributing to the general cost of education? Does the Minister think that such discrimination is fair, particularly when so little money is involved—this arises out of his answer to my Question—and when most of that money is provided out of general taxation, not through the rates, to which these people have contributed? Is this not a gross and monstrous injustice, and when will the Government do something about it?

The Conservative Party fought an election in 1974 as the freedom fighters and on giving freedom to local authorities. The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. This is a matter entirely for the regional council and it is for that council to determine its own priorities. I can tell the hon. Gentleman, however, that the council will continue to supply milk to special schools not under its management.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the cut-back in the milk supply to schools originated from the Opposition when they were in office and that people who are in a good financial position and who desire to separate themselves from the rest of the community are denying their own children free milk?

Before I call the next Question, although probably I misheard something that occurred on the earlier Question, I ask right hon. and hon. Members to remember where they are.