§ Mr. John Grant
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will take steps to provide free school meals and milk for the duration of the present emergency situation, at least for children of parents whose incomes have fallen due to three-day working.
§ Mr. Raison
The present arrangements for remitting the charge for school meals entitle a parent to free school meals for children at school during any week in 27W which his income falls below the prescribed levels or he receives supplementary benefit or family income supplement. No change in the arrangements to meet the present emergency situation is therefore required.
The issue of free milk at school is not related to a parent's financial circumstances. Pupils of all ages in special schools and children up to seven in other schools receive milk automatically ; a junior pupil over seven may receive it if a school medical officer decides that he needs it on grounds of health. When so deciding the medical officer need not wait until the child shows overt signs of malnutrition, but may take all the child's circumstances into account.
There is no justification for providing free school meals for all pupils at school. The additional cost would be nearly £6 million a week, allowing for the additional demand created, and most of this would be for the benefit of parents well able to pay the small charge for the meal which is now made.