Parliamentary activity
Meetings and engagements 
 
A General Election was called on 18th April, in the middle of Easter recess. This meant that MP meetings need to be re-arranged – we currently have the following post-election meetings either arranged or agreed to in principal:

  • Peter Dowd, Labour MP for Bootle (28th June)
  • Ian Mearns, Labour MP and member of the Education Select Committee (TBC)
  • Neil Parish, Conservative MP and chair of the Defra Committee (TBC)
      

House of Commons and House of Lords written questions

Nine new written questions were answered.

  
  • Former Labour Shadow Defra Secretary Maria Eagle asked what steps the Department for Education is taking to ensure that all schools comply with the milk requirements of the School Food Standards for England; what the timescale is for the review of the School Food Standards; whether the reduced dairy requirements of the revised Eatwell Guide will be considered when reviewing the School Food Standards; and how many schools in Ms Eagle’s constituency meet the Standard’s milk provision requirements.

    Responding collectively to these questions, Children’s Minister Edward Timpson said that the Government promotes the consumption of dairy products, and that the Standards include a requirement to make milk available at least once during the school day. Additionally, he noted those schools not obliged to abide by the Standards will be encouraged to commit to them as part of the Childhood Obesity Plan; that further information on the timetable for the review of the Standards would be available “later in the year”; and that the revised Eatwell Guide continues to embody the Government’s nutritional recommendations. Finally, Mr Timpson said that his department did not hold information on school milk uptake in Ms Eagle’s constituency.
 
  • Additionally, Ms Eagle asked how many schools in her constituency receive subsidised milk under the European School Milk Scheme; and what plans there are to replace the scheme. Mr Timpson said that data on the uptake was not readily available. He referred Ms Eagle to an answer to an earlier PQ on a replacement scheme which said that a long-term approach to school milk provisions will be considered as part of a future domestic policy set.
 
  • Ms Eagle asked whether the Department of Health would assess the effect of the revised Eatwell Guide on (a) milk consumption by children and (b) changes in the level of childhood obesity. Public Health Minister Nicola Blackwood responded that there are no plans to specifically assess the effect of the Eatwell Guide on children’s milk consumption or changes in the levels of childhood obesity as it was impractical.
 
  • Ms Eagle asked for a list of the members of the External Reference Group that supported the revisions to the Eatwell Guide. Ms Blackwood provided a link to a database containing information on the Group’s members and observers.
 
  • Lib Dem Education spokesperson Lord Storey asked the Government what plans they have to promote the benefits of school and nursery milk as part of their childhood obesity strategy. Health Minister Lord O'Shaughnessy said that as part of the Childhood Obesity Plan, the Government will publish and promote example menus for early year’s settings. He added that where the School Food Standards apply, milk must be available during school hours every day.


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