Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1971 Jun 14 Mo
Margaret Thatcher

HC I 2R [Education (Milk) Bill]

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: House of Commons Intervention
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [819/95-114]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1834-1927. MT spoke at c113.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 7318
Themes: -
[column 95]

6.34 p.m.

Sir Gerald Nabarro (Worcestershire, South)

This Bill has been variously described over the last few hours as a mean Bill, a wretched Bill, a miserable Bill and a nasty Bill——

[column 96]

Mr. Pavitt

A horrible Bill.

Sir G. Nabarro

The hon. Gentleman says “a horrible Bill” . I can support none of those descriptions of this Measure, which is exactly consonant with Conservative policy. It is a highly desirable Measure, which will have my utmost support for all the reasons which I propose to enunciate.

I summed up my philosophy in the matter of welfare milk in a supplementary question to the Minister of Agriculture a few months ago, when he was being assaulted by Labour Members for the alleged reduction in the service of school meals and the amount of welfare milk being consumed. I counselled my right hon. Friend on that occasion to advise the community to spend less in the boozers and more on the kids.

This remark of mine was described by the right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short) in inaccurate terms—I corrected him—and so interested were Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Tyneside generally in the metaphor which I had employed that they had a banner headline in their local paper reporting it. The B.B.C. asked me to say why I had insulted Geordie workers, and interpreted it as a parochial reference to Tynemouth and the North-East.

Of course, it applies to the whole nation. Far too much money is spent in the boozers instead of on the kids. This is exactly the philosophy related by my right hon. Friend in answering Questions last Thursday, that working mothers, although they may be doing full-time jobs in factories and elsewhere, are well capable by themselves, without Government support or guidance, of looking after the nutritional requirements of their children. Indeed, it would be impertinent for the Government to intervene on the nutritional requirements of those children.

Personally, I love milk. I consume alcohol hardly at all, but two pints of milk per day has been my habit for many years past. [Laughter.] I am sorry to have caused hilarity behind me——

Mr. Curran

I was expressing admiration, Gerald.

Sir G. Nabarro

Yes, I have a splendid figure to show for it. I do not suffer from any of the obesity mentioned by the [column 97]hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt). A matter of 160 1b. avoirdupois stripped off—which is much more satisfactory than the figure of the hon. Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Swain)——

Mr. Speaker

We are getting into a physical area now, but I wonder what both hands in the pockets is intended to signify.

Sir G. Nabarro

Both hands in the pockets was meant, at that moment in my speech, to display my svelte figure to the hon. Member for Willesden, West, who alluded to obesity—something which is unknown to me. Of course we should all encourage children to drink milk and every home in the country to provide a maximum supply of milk as the most nutritious of all foods.

I have a secondary interest in this matter, in that I sit for South Worcestershire, which is a substantial milk-producing constituency. It was for that reason that I intervened in my right hon. Friend's speech and asked what affect the Bill would have on the demand for liquid milk, as closely as could be assessed, and what influence it would have on the farming community. My right hon. Friend replied with alacrity—I did not expect her to have the answer readily available: it was extraordinarily prescient of her to know that I would ask this question—that there would be a diminution of 1 per cent.

This is infinitesimal, of course. I do not think that there will be any diminution, because the efforts of the Milk Marketing Board, a large number of hon. Members and others interested in stimulating the demand for milk and supporting the production of an ever-increasing quantity of liquid milk—but no more liquid milk than can readily be sold—will look after any temporary shortfall which there may be and set the path upward again in increasing milk production.

In your absence from the Chair, Mr. Speaker, hon. Members opposite suggested that some of my hon. Friends and myself were guilty of hypocrisy in putting forward the Bill for Second Reading. We now have nods of assent from the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) and the hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Alfred Morris), who suggested that I had been a hypocrite because the contents of the Bill, they said, [column 98]are contrary to the provisions and the principles on which I was elected in June, 1970. That is utterly false. I warned all my constituents in South Worcestershire all 70,000—for which they gave me a vastly increased majority on that important occasion—that our application of welfare moneys would be highly selective in character and would be directed on the narrowest front to those truly in need, when the Conservative Party had disposed of the three or four weeks before the long recess.

Immediately the Conservative Party returned here in October, after the long recess, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer provided for important measures. He laid before the House the White Paper Cmnd. 4515 entitled “New Policies for Public Spending” . Before quoting from the White Paper, I allude to the debate on public expenditure and taxation allied to it, and I quote my right hon. Friend, who said:

“I now come to the social services. Here, we shall establish more sensible priorities. We shall expect that, where the user can afford it, he should bear more of the cost and the taxpayer less, but we shall give more help to those who need it. At the same time, we intend to add substantially to the resources devoted to the basic structure of the health, welfare and education services and to introduce a new social security benefit” .—[Official Report, 27th October, 1970; Vol. 805, c. 42.]

The new social security benefit is the family supplementation arrangements. There was clearly stated on 27th October last, eight months ago, the intention of my party.

Referring to the Command Paper No. 4515, I find these words clearly denoted in paragraph 19:

“A Bill will be introduced to discontinue the supply of free milk to pupils at the end of the summer term after they reach age 7. Younger pupils in nursery and primary schools, pupils up to 12 who have a medical requirement and pupils in special schools will not be affected. The practical arrangements will be discussed with local education authorities. In a full year the saving will be about £9 million.”

That is exactly what the Bill implements. It is eight months too late, in my opinion—squeezed out of the legislative queue by the lengthy deliberations on the Industrial Relations Bill. Had there been parliamentary time, we should have introduced the Bill last autumn. For hon. Members opposite to accuse my party of hypocrisy, and individual members of it of being hypocrites, is grossly false. I [column 99]resent the accusation. I rebut their suggestion. What we have printed in the Command Paper, and what was related by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 27th October, 1970, is an exact implementation of the policies on which we were elected in June, 1970, an important factor and feature of which is the Bill now before us.

Mr. Pavitt

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that what he has just read out was part of the Conservative Party's election manifesto, too?

Sir G. Nabarro

Yes, Sir. The Conservative Party said throughout the General Election that it would be more discriminatory and would specialise more in the application of social welfare benefits. This afternoon, in the context of liquid milk, I thoroughly resent the conspiracy of the Labour Party to drown me in welfare milk. I do not want welfare milk, neither do I want it for my children. I will pay for milk myself. We will help those who are needy and have children who are genuinely requiring this form of sustenance in schools and who cannot afford to pay for it. But there is no sense or reason for drenching or drowning the whole of the community in welfare milk because a few are needy. That is chucking the baby out with the bath water, to use an appropriate metaphor.

Mr. Kinnock

Mixed.

Sir G. Nabarro

Not mixed, very appropriate.

I quote a further passage from the White Paper, because it has been suggested that this economy in welfare milk is equated to a reduction in income tax. The right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central even suggested that the economy in welfare milk was being related to a benefit for surtax payers earning above £4,005 annually. The hon. Lady the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) is supporting her right hon. Friend by nodding assent to that propoition. I reject it absolutely because of the words in the Command Paper, which I now quote:

Increased primary school building programme

21. There will be a substantial increase in school building programmes for 1972–73 to enable local education authorities to make faster progress in replacing and improving old [column 100]primary schools. For Great Britain the previous programme (see general note (i) on tables 1 and 2, page 5) had allowed for the start of only £13 million worth of work for improvements in 1972–73. Instead the new programme for that year will include starts for this purpose totalling £44 million of which about £36 million will be for England, £5 million for Scotland, and £3 million for Wales. The net effect will be that expenditure on educational building as a whole during the four years to 1974–75 will be increased by £28 million.”

Here I put the matter into the correct perspective. We are saving £9 million on school milk. Against that, we are increasing the programme from £13 million to £44 million for improvement works in 1972–73. So we spend £31 million more on school improvements and we economise £9 million on school milk.

Mr. Kinnock

Rubbish.

Sir G. Nabarro

It is not rubbish. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman has followed the figures I quoted. We are spending more than three times more money on school improvements than the relatively small sum of £9 million economised on welfare school milk, and without depriving any children of school milk so long as it may be demonstrated that their parents really need financial help to pay for the milk.

The difference in philosophy between our two parties, the Conservative Party that I represent and the Party represented by the hon. Member for Willesden, West, can well be found by going back to the debates in the days of the previous Labour Government, when milk for secondary school children was abolished by the Labour Government.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

They were wrong.

Sir G. Nabarro

The hon. Gentleman may think that it was wrong, but, if he would allow me to continue, I would demonstrate that many of his colleagues had the courage to carry their objections into the Division Lobby. I quote from a speech made by the hon. Member for Willesden, West on that important occasion. This is relevant to what we are debating.

In the debate on Clause 3 of the Public Expenditure and Receipts Bill, the hon. Gentleman said:

“Under the Amendment, the nutritional facts would be established before the Clause [column 101]was implemented. I am glad that a representative of the Ministry of Health is here, because that Ministry is seeking to get away from cure to prevention of illness. This is what the National Health Service is about. We have the opportunity when a child is growing to establish solid bones and healthy bodies for the rest of his life. Now, at the age of 11, and despite the fact that bones will grow until the age of 20, we will ignore this factor. Precisely because of this opportunity of giving school milk we have been one of the few countries to eliminate rickets. The calcium and protein which we have fed school children has given them the strength to withstand such diseases.” —[Official Report, 26th February, 1968; Vol. 759, c. 1093.]

That is a remarkable statement. The hon. Gentleman is notorious, and his speech was characteristic, for being not only persistent—and I congratulate him on his pertinacious qualities—but utterly consistent. He is consistent within the philosophy of his party, because he believes in drowning the nation in welfare milk. I do not. I believe in giving welfare milk only to those in need.

Let us look at the Amendment which the hon. Gentleman was then supporting. It had been moved by the then hon. Member for Reading, Mr. John Lee. It said:

“Provided that in no case shall the provisions of this subsection apply to a pupil whose parent or guardian or other responsible person is in receipt of unemployment benefit or has been in such receipt at any time during the past twelve months.”

What the hon. Gentleman and his friends were then saying was that the provision for the withdrawal of welfare milk to secondary school children should not be made applicable to any child whose parent was then unemployed. The Labour Government rejected it out of hand—at least, the wilder excesses of its back benchers were frustrated by Ministers taking the advice of the Treasury and other civil servants.

The voting was interesting. I quote Division No. 67 of 26th February, 1968, column 1104, where the name “Pavitt, Laurence” is to be found at 11.55 p.m. voting against his own party and in support of the philosophy which he holds so dear. I congratulate the hon. Gentleman both on his persistence and on his consistence, but the fact remains that I do not want to be drowned in welfare milk, and neither does any other member of my party. We will apply welfare provisions in a discriminatory fashion to those who are truly needy. When it came to the [column 102]voting on the Question “That the Clause stand part of the Bill” , the hon. Gentleman carried his resistance even further, despite the Whips, and abstained from voting.

Mr. Pavitt

Will the hon. Gentleman take it from me that we do not mind what he drowns in?

Sir G. Nabarro

That is being thoroughly offensive and not very funny. I am seeking to demonstrate and not without some success, the fundamental differences in philosophy between the Labour Party and the Tory Party. I will help anybody in my constituency who is needy, infirm, sick, elderly, or for some other reason in unfortunate circumstances. What I will not do is to try to help people who do not need help and who ought to be capable of standing on their own hind legs.

Miss Joan Lestor (Eton and Slough)

In order to help me with my winding-up speech, could the hon. Gentleman tell me where in the Bill, on which, he believes, he is shedding so much light, there is a poverty qualification for children to receive free milk?

Sir G. Nabarro

Children who are needy will undoubtedly receive free milk. I will deal with all this in a moment when I reach a further stage in my speech. I am now dealing with the hypocrisy of the Labour Party.

I will rub it in a little more, for we may be told by succeeding speakers, especially by the hon. Lady, that when the hon. Member for Willesden, West was in revolt against his own Government, he was suffering some kind of mental aberration, was off the rails, and that no member of the Labour Government supported the view that welfare milk for secondary school children should be abolished. But did they not?

Let us have a look at what was said by Mr. John Diamond, who lost his seat at Gloucester——

Mr. Hardy

Bromsgrove!

Sir G. Nabarro

—and is now upstairs. No doubt his hypocrisy made a contribution to the loss of his seat. On the Bill dealing with the abolition of secondary school welfare milk he said:

“We very carefully considered the possibility of providing free milk for some secondary [column 103] schoolchildren on grounds of special need, and we decided to continue free milk for children at special schools. But we have reluctantly concluded that it would not be possible to select from secondary schoolchildren in ordinary maintained schools those who should receive free milk while their fellows were not receiving milk in school at all. Great difficulties are obviously inherent in selecting individual children on nutritional grounds, or grounds of family finances. In particular, there is the overriding human difficulty that any such provision would inevitably single out children and lead to considerable embarrassment.” —[Official Report, 20th February, 1968; Vol. 759, c. 252–3.]

Mr. Skinner

He was not being serious.

Sir G. Nabarro

He was being serious. This was said in the House of Commons and it must have been serious; everything said in the House of Commons is serious. The hon. Gentleman was not in the last Parliament and does not realise the impact of Labour Ministers resisting the wilder excesses from their back benches.

The principle was applied to secondary school children in the last Parliament under a Labour Government, and very properly applied, in order to contain excessive expenditure. My own party, not only because it carefully follows the principles on which it was elected, is well advised, in the interests of the public purse and the national economy, to apply similar principles to all primary school children.

I want to say a word about the former Member for Uxbridge. He, too, lost his seat. I am delighted to see his successor here.

Mr. Thomas Swain (Derbyshire, North-East)

He once lost his seat, too.

Sir G. Nabarro

My hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Curran) was elected with a resounding majority of 3,646. His predecessor pleaded with the then Minister, but the Minister did not take much notice of him, I am sad to say. The then Member for Uxbridge asked that more vending machines for milk should be placed in education establishments. Mr. Ryan said:

“I ask my hon. Friend whether he would encourage local authorities or individual schools to provide an alternative source of milk through vending machines …” —[Official Report, 26th February, 1968; Vol. 759, c. 1092.]

I should like to refer to that. [column 104]

There are far too many vending machines in education establishments offering cigarettes and tobacco. Had not the Government been so severely misguided as to defeat my recent attempt——

Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)

Not misguided.

Sir G. Nabarro

I do not want any interruptions from my hon. Friend, who was an opponent of the Bill.

Had not my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services been so misguided as to bring his immense forces to bear to squash that Bill—as the hon. Member for Willesden, West will recall—we should have had a provision on the Statute Book prohibiting vending machines selling cigarettes and tobacco in educational establishments.

I want my right hon. Friend to consider this carefully. I want there to be special provision and encouragement in all educational establishments to sell liquid milk.

Mr. Skinner

Why vending machines?

Sir G. Nabarro

Vending machines are appropriate machines for this purpose, as we know in the House of Commons. If the hon. Gentleman goes to the cafeteria, he will be able to buy in a paper cup a generous supply of ice-cold liquid milk, which will do his constitution much more good than the beer which he usually absorbs.

Mr. Hardy

How can a school of 500 or 1,000 children properly provide vending machines? The children will have only 10 or 15 minutes for their break. Does he think that it would be a good arrangement that hundreds of children should queue for the whole of their break time so as to be able to get to the vending machines?

Sir G. Nabarro

I shall not go into minute administrative arrangements. Such arrangements may be made perfectly well, as they are made in other places, where, for example, thousands of people are employed in factories, workshops or offices or, indeed, as such machines are used in the House of Commons. I want my right hon. Friend to have some regard to that suggestion.

[column 105]

Mr. Skinner

A moment ago the hon. Gentleman suggested that I should drink more milk and, perhaps, less beer. I have not had a drink of beer since I came here. I drink milk stout.

Sir G. Nabarro

True, it is better to drink stout than ale. But the hon. Member for Bolsover is generally misguided in these welfare food and milk matters, as he was last Thursday when he put a Question to my right hon. Friend about school meals. The arguments about meals at school, welfare milk, and so on are closely associated one with the other. On that occasion the hon. Gentleman was seeking to make propaganda at my right hon. Friend's expense, but, as always, she was a jump ahead of him and responded accurately to his Question. It was most instructive. The hon. Gentleman asked my right hon. Friend:

“how many schoolchildren in Derbyshire are taking school meals, at the latest possible date; and by how much this figure has fallen since a year previously.”

This was her reply:

“The latest information available to my Department relates to the autumn of last year, when the number of school meals served in Derbyshire was 73,441. The corresponding figure for 1969 was 73,289.” —[Official Report, 10th June, 1971; Vol. 818, c. 1223.]

The two figures are very close to one another.

Mr. Skinner

They are not relevant.

Sir G. Nabarro

What they show dramatically is that there has been no significant drop in the period stated.

Mr. Skinner

rose——

Sir G. Nabarro

I shall give way in a moment. I can ask Sir Jack Longden for the figures. He is an authority on Derbyshire education, and he will provide me with the figures. He is the distinguished director of education for the County of Derby, so distinguished that he has been awarded a knighthood for his services, and I am sure that he will provide me with evidence right up to date showing that there is no significant drop in the number of school meals as a result of recent provisions and new policies implemented during the last 12 months of Conservative rule.

Mr. Skinner

It should be pointed out that the figures given by the Secretary of State relate to autumn 1970, which was [column 106]well before the increased charges came in. So there is no question of any significant drop being relevant there, as I pointed out in my supplementary question on that occasion. What is more, Jack Longden——

Sir G. Nabarro

Sir Jack Longden.

Mr. Skinner

—Sir Jack Longden has now left Derbyshire as director of education. He left it to serve on the Royal Commission dealing with local government reorganisation, and he was knighted not because of his services to the county in education but, almost certainly, because he served on the Maud Commission.

Sir G. Nabarro

The hon. Member for Bolsover misses the point. Sir Jack Longden was the greatest educationist the County of Derby had ever acquired. I am glad to observe that the silence which has greeted my comment in this important regard gives ample confirmation of that.

Mr. Phillip Whitehead (Derby, North)

The hon. Gentleman would like some up-to-date facts from Derbyshire. Perhaps he will be interested to know that I spent last week touring primary schools in the County Borough of Derby, and I was told in those schools that the number of children taking school meals had fallen by between 25 and 30 per school. Moreover, I was told that it was deplored in each and every one of those schools that this mean little Bill was to be brought forward to deprive the children also of school milk.

Mr. G. Nabarro

If the period is irrelevant, as the hon. Member for Bolsover says, because it is 12 months out of date, we shall bring the figures up to date shortly. I ask my right hon. Friend to publish them.

Mr. Whitehead

I gave some significant facts.

Sir G. Nabarro

The hon. Gentleman must contain himself. He has ants in his pants, jumping up and down so much that I wonder whether he is a Member of Parliament or a jack-in-the-box. I was replying, first, to his hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover. Between 1967 and 1969 the Labour Government increased charges for school meals considerably. If there was any falling off in the days of the [column 107]Labour Government, it was due simply to the action of Labour Ministers.

The hon. Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead) may have been told that there was a great decline in the consumption of school meals. There is no evidence to support it, as my right hon. Friend demonstrated last Thursday. If he has more recent evidence, perhaps he will produce it.

I turn now from Bolsover, Derbyshire, North and Derbyshire, North-East to Derbyshire, South-East. This is not a Derbyshire debate, but Derbyshire seems to have been prominently associated with this controversy. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short), opening for the Opposition, purported to quote my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, South-East (Mr. Rost). [An Hon. Member: “Disgraceful.” ] Disgraceful, I agree, because he had not given my hon. Friend forward notice that he would quote him. I shall now deal with the point which he then made. The right hon. Gentleman did not quote from the Official Report. He gave his own interpretation of what was said, and, as usual, it was wildly inaccurate. This is what was said in the exchange between my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend last Thursday.

My right hon. Friend had replied to a Question from the hon. Lady the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mrs. Doris Fisher), and then, in response to the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. R. C. Mitchell), she said:

“The hon. Gentleman asks whether I do not think it disgraceful that there should be a fall-off. I do not think that one should assume that because fewer children are taking school meals they are not getting as good a meal at home or elsewhere.”

Whereupon my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, South-East, in his characteristically ebullient fashion, and in the most apposite terms, put this proposition to my right hon. Friend:

“Does not my right hon. Friend feel that it would be appropriate to remind the Opposition and the country that it is not the State's responsibility to feed children, that her resources in the education service should be concentrated on improving educational facilities, and that if parents are not prepared to ensure that their children are properly fed, they are not fit to be parents and should not have children?” —[Official Report, 10th June, 1971; Vol. 818, c. 1222.]
[column 108]

Mr. Swain

The hon. Gentleman wants to say that in Swadlincote.

Sir G. Nabarro

Does the hon. Gentleman want to interrupt me?

Mr. Swain

The hon. Member for Derbyshire, South-East (Mr. Rost) wants to go into his constituency and say that on the public platform. His constituents would lynch him.

Sir G. Nabarro

The hon. Member for Derbyshire, South-East walked into this Chamber at 6.28 p.m. for the first time. I noted the time at once, because he is notorious in this House for absenting himself from debates, coming in at a late hour and remaining in a sedentary position and bawling.

An. Hon. Member

The hon. Gentleman has been speaking for 35 minutes already.

Sir G. Nabarro

Another 35 minutes coming up.

Of course, the philosophy of my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, South-East is, in metaphorical terms, exactly the same as the supplementary question which I put to my right hon. Friend the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food some months ago, when he was being attacked over this same question. I said that his advice to the community should be—I repeat it and I shall come to Swadlincote with it— “Spend less in the boozers and more on the kids.” In other words, working men who can afford to spend large sums of money on beer or other alcoholic beverages would do well to devote an appropriate part of it to buying milk for their children, and not charging the cost of the milk to the taxpayer.

Mr. James Hill (Southampton, Test)

Is my hon. Friend aware that two children can have a third of a pint of milk a day for a week for the price of about 1½ bottles of milk stout?

Sir G. Nabarro

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test (Mr. James Hill). I wish to put this Bill into its correct perspective as to the influence it might have on family and household budgets. I have had worked out carefully what would be the effect of removing free milk in primary schools on a family with two [column 109]children getting milk free at the present time. The extra charge would be of the order of 16½p per week, or 3s. 6d. in old currency. If there were three children in the family the extra cost would be 25p a week, or 5s. If the parents cannot afford it, there will be provision to help them.

Hon. Members

That is not in the Bill.

Sir G. Nabarro

Maybe not in the Bill, but it is elsewhere in the social welfare services.

Miss Lestor

I have already asked the hon. Gentleman——

Sir G. Nabarro

I am coming to the hon. Lady's point. She is so impatient.

Miss Lestor

I am impatient on this point. I have asked the hon. Gentleman, and he said he would tell me, where the Bill says that poverty is a ground for getting free milk.

Sir G. Nabarro

I wonder where the hon. Lady has been in the last few months. I wonder whether she has read the legislative provisions of my party. We have brought in family supplementation——

Hon. Members

In the Bill?

Sir G. Nabarro

Not in this Bill. [Interruption.] Of course not. The “Ha, ha” from Labour hon. Members displays their incredible ignorance. Family supplementation provisions are in other legislative Measures, but they are directed to provisions for helping poor and needy families who cannot provide the money for milk in school. There was no family supplementation under the Labour Government. Family supplementation is available to help poor families——

Mr. Skinner

Not for the unemployed.

Sir G. Nabarro

Yes—for the unemployed. The unemployed may derive benefit from other welfare provisions to provide money for milk for children in school if the parents cannot afford to pay for it, and there are provisions, as my hon. Friend in winding up the debate will amply confirm——

Mr. Edward Taylor

indicated assent.

[column 110]

Sir G. Nabarro

I am glad to see my hon. Friend nodding assent. There are ample provisions for the family that cannot afford to pay an economic price for welfare milk in schools to be helped by State provisions. [Interruption.] Labour hon. Members do not like having the facts of life rubbed into them. I have demolished the case they have put up against the Bill. It is a great pity that the right hon. Gentleman who led for the Opposition makes his own speech and then scurries for cover. He is never here to listen to the come-back from the opposite side of the House. He ran away a quarter of an hour after making his speech.

Mr. William Price (Rugby)

The hon. Gentleman has misquoted my right hon. Friend.

Sir G. Nabarro

I have quoted from Hansard. The right hon. Gentleman could not quote from Hansard in his speech, and for that reason he was wildly inaccurate in almost everything he said.

Mr. Price

rose——

Sir G. Nabarro

I shall happily give way to the hon. Gentleman, but he is getting very black looks from his hon. Friends behind him for delaying the debate if he persists. Is he sure that he wants to intervene?

Mr. Price

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman wishes to be occurate about at least one quotation alleged to have been made by my right hon. Friend. He will find that this quotation was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Raphael Tuck).

Sir G. Nabarro

No. The quotation I gave from my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, South-East was strictly correct.

Mr. Price

It was quoted not by my right hon. Friend but from below the Gangway.

Sir G. Nabarro

Whether it was quoted from below the Gangway or by the right hon. Gentleman, the right hon. Gentleman was even too idle to go away and get the correct text——

Mr. Price

Withdraw.

Sir G. Nabarro

—of what I said a few months ago about spending less in [column 111]the boozers and more on the kids. He got that all wrong, so I had to correct him. It is correct that this was brought out by the hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Raphael Tuck) and agreed to by the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Peter Rost (Derbyshire, South-East)

My hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro), in quoting the remarks I made in the House last week, did not suggest that these remarks were quoted by the right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short). What I believe he was referring to was that the right hon. Gentleman regarded my remarks as arrogant, and said so in this Chamber this afternoon, and I believe that that is what my hon. Friend was wishing to draw attention to.

Mr. Price

My right hon. Friend did not misquote the hon. Gentleman, did he?

Sir G. Nabarro

I do not believe that my hon. Friend was arrogant at all. He has a philosophical approach to these matters, which is identical to my own. What hon. Members opposite seem to forget is that on 7th January this year I had the pleasure of visiting my hon. Friend's constituency and making three speeches for him on the same day—one at lunchtime, one in the afternoon and one at a public meeting in the evening.

Mr. Swain

Same speech.

Sir G. Nabarro

No—three entirely different, as always. Shortly before he was elected I visited my hon. Friend's constituency and delivered the speech in Derby, which led to widespread approbation and acclamation. He won the seat, just as my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge won his by 3,646 votes.

Mr. Speaker

Order. We are all interested in the hon. Gentleman's speeches, but he should now speak to the Bill.

Sir G. Nabarro

I was led astray by my hon. Friend. The fact is that in the Conservative Party there is a philosophy which says that welfare benefits should be applied where they are really needed.

I want to ask my right hon. Friend a final question. For far too long there [column 112]has been a discrimination between the public and private sectors of education. At the moment 95 per cent. of pupils are in State schools, while 5 per cent. are in private, independent, fee-paying schools. I declare my interest. I am Chairman of the Council for Independent Education, which is a consultative body representing all fee-paying school interests.

Mr. Kinnock

It is only 5 per cent.

Sir G. Nabarro

That is so, but it is very important that parents should have a choice, an alternative to State schools. The hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock), who persists in shouting at me, might remember that the Labour Party took no steps to abolish the private sector of education. It could not do it. It never will be able to do it. There will always be a private sector of education, and I see no reason why welfare milk for the under-sevens may be given at taxpayers' expense in State schools but not in private schools.

Mr. Kinnock

On a point of order. Mr. Speaker. I have chosen to make my interruptions from a sedentary position because, before the hon. Gentleman started to speak, I took it upon myself not to interrupt formally. My view is being borne out by the ridiculously long speech which the hon. Gentleman is making on a very serious matter.

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of order. I have no control over the length of speeches.

Sir G. Nabarro

Mr. Speaker, I am. as always, grateful for your protection.

Mr. Fred Evans

On a point of order. Mr. Speaker. You have ruled that the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) must be pertinent to the debate, but he has again strayed far from it.

Mr. Speaker

That is a matter for me. Sir Gerald Nabarro.

Sir G. Nabarro

As always, Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for your protection.

In case the new arrivals on the benches opposite do not know the facts of parliamentary life, let me tell them that it is permissible, and within the rules of order, to draw attention to omissions from the Bill. We are on the Second Reading of [column 113]the Bill now, and I am drawing attention to an omission from it. I should like my right hon. Friend to provide that children under seven in private, fee-paying independent schools may receive free milk in the same way as children receive it in State schools. My interpretation of the Bill is that children in private schools do not get free milk. If I am wrong, I hope that my right hon. Friend will correct me, but, if I am right, will she consider introducing a Government Amendment, in Committee, on Report, or at some other appropriate stage, to make sure that children up to age of seven receiving their education in private fee-paying independent schools get free welfare milk on the same terms—that is, gratuitously—as children educated in State schools.

Mrs. Thatcher

The point is dealt with in Clause 1(3), under which children in schools not maintained by local education authorities receive milk until the end of the summer term in which they become seven, but the provision for milk on health grounds beyond that does not extend to these schools. At the end of the summer term in which they reach seven it does extend to them.

Sir G. Nabarro

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that explanation. I hope to go away and examine the provision in greater detail.

Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)

rose——

Sir G. Nabarro

I give way to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Page

I wonder whether, in his——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I have said that I have no control over the length of speeches. I have not, but I have a memory. The hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) has now been speaking for 50 minutes, and I think that at least half-a-dozen other hon. Members wish to take part in the debate. I hope that the hon. Member will have some regard to that fact.

Sir G. Nabarro

I give way to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Page

I wonder whether my hon. Friend would be willing to ask our right hon. Friend to impress on local authori[column 114]ties the importance of giving equal treatment to children in State schools and those who go to independent schools?

Sir G. Nabarro

My right hon. Friend will have heard that apposite inquiry, and no doubt will deal with it later if any further correction or emendation is required.

In deference to your views, Mr. Speaker, and as I have been speaking for more than 50 minutes—[Interruption.]—no doubt it seems like two hours and 50 minutes. The hon. Lady always shuns the truth in these important matters.

I end by congratulating my right hon. Friend on two counts, first, on implementing precisely the Conservative Party's General Election manifesto of June, 1970; second, on carrying through to fruition the important provisions related by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the public expenditure debate arising from Cmnd. 4515 on 27th October last. Notwithstanding the Whips tonight, I am assured that the Bill will receive a substantial majority on Second Reading, which will give joy to all the Conservatives in this country.