Meetings and parliamentary engagements 

Over the last month, we have had the following contact with parliamentarians:
We had a positive meeting with Scott Mann, the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dairy. We introduced the Alliance and the range of organisations it represents, and we informed him of the research from Northumbria University on the health benefits of school milk. Mr Mann informed us that the Dairy APPG would focus its efforts over the next year on how dairy could improve its image and dairy’s post-Brexit export opportunities. Mr Mann said he would continue to support our campaign through tabling questions to the Government about the concerns we raised.
The Labour MP for North Tyneside, Mary Glindon, tabled two written questions, the first asking what assessment Defra has made about the number of school children impacted by the discontinuance of the EU School Milk Scheme; and the second asking what discussions Defra had had with the Cabinet Office regarding developing a replacement to the EU School Milk Scheme. George Eustice responded to both questions stating that the dairy industry helped “children to be healthy and well-nourished” and highlighted the other measures the Government is taking in promoting milk consumption in children, namely the Nursery Milk Scheme and ensuring the availability of milk under the School Food Standards, including free school milk for disadvantaged pupils. He also said, “the longer-term approach to the EU Scheme is still under consideration.”
There was a debate in the House of Lords on 18th January on ensuring children receive regular dental examinations and any necessary treatment, ahead of which we briefed peers on the positive effects of school milk on children’s oral health. Lord Storey, the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for education, raised the point that all children under the age of five were entitled to free milk and suggested this be rolled out to all primary school children, and suggested that dental milk be more widely available for parents. Baroness Chisolm of Owlpen responded on behalf of the Government saying that while “milk does not per se improve teeth” it is a good source of calcium, a healthy alternative to sugary drinks and “safe for children’s teeth.”
Subsequently, Labour’s Baroness Kennedy of Cradley asked an oral question in the House of Lords about what action the Government is taking to improve dental care in England” and for which the particular prevalence of poor oral health in children was discussed. We briefed a number of the peers present on the valuable contribution school and nursery milk makes to children’s oral health prior to this question, and will continue to look for opportunities to highlight the role of milk in improving dental health.
We briefed MPs ahead of a debate in the House of Commons on the impact of leaving the EU on agriculture, which was led by Alistair Carmichael, and which was attended by SNMA supporters such as Scott Mann. Although school milk was not referenced directly in the debate, it provided an opportunity for us to remind MPs of the importance of implementing a domestic replacement to the EU school milk scheme after Brexit, and the benefits it would bring to the dairy industry, the education sector and children broadly.

Parliamentary activity
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