6. Mr. David Adams
asked the President of the Board of Education whether his attention has been called to the wide discrepancies in the assessment of mal- 174 nutrition among school children in different Tyneside areas revealed by a recent investigation by Dr. D. M. Goodfellow, of Newcastle; and whether, in view of the danger of increasing malnutrition among school children as a result of the present war, he will take immediate steps to have assessments of nutritional standards brought into line throughout the whole country, so that a reliable knowledge of the facts may be obtained?
§ The President of the Board of Education (Mr. Ramsbotham)
I am aware that there are considerable differences in the percentages of undernourished children found by school medical officers in the various Tyneside areas, though the differences shown by the returns for 1939 are not so great as in the returns for earlier years, on which Dr. Goodfellow's criticisms were based. Such variations are, to some extent, real, and due to differences in the social circumstances of the areas, though they are no doubt in part due to differences in the standards adopted by the school medical officers. Where the returns appear to indicate that the medical officer's standard differs materially from that usually adopted, it is the practice of the Board to arrange for a visit to the area by one of their medical officers for the purpose of discussing the matter with the school medical officer and, if necessary, conducting a sample nutrition survey in a group of schools.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his answer is only a partial reply to the Question, which is whether nutritional standards throughout the country can be brought into harmony so that the figures for the whole country may be made available?
§ Mr. Ramsbotham
I think that if the hon. Member will study my answer, he will see that the procedure I am carrying out is very much what he recommends.