Parliamentary activity
Meetings and engagements 

We held two parliamentary meetings this month:

  • Mary Glindon MP, Shadow Farming Minister (7th February)

The meeting focused on briefing Ms Glindon on our concerns about the school and nursery milk schemes and the Eatwell Guide. She was also keen to discuss the problems of obesity and tooth decay in her constituency and how school milk can help to counter this. Ms Glindon expressed her support for our efforts and agreed to ask questions in the House of Commons and apply for a debate on school and nursery milk in Westminster Hall.  
  • Irena Hulova, Senior Parliamentary Assistant to Graham Allen MP (27th February)
The meeting was a positive one. We briefed Ms Hulova about the school and nursery milk schemes and she was keen to find specific data on school milk in Nottingham. She also said that Mr Allen would be willing to take forward supportive activity in parliament and in Nottingham.

We have three meetings arranged for March:

7th March:
  • Lucy Powell MP, Former Shadow Defra Secretary

21st March:
  • Lord Storey, Lib Dem Education Spokesperson

28th March:
  • Marie Eagle MP, Former Shadow Defra Secretary (rescheduled from 27th February)

House of Commons and House of Lords written questions
This month we have received answers to a total of five written parliamentary questions. Two of these were tabled in January. Labour MP Julie Elliot asked the Education Secretary what plans her Department has to encourage greater uptake of free milk in schools and nurseries. Children’s Minister Edward Timpson responded that it already encouraged the consumption of dairy products as part of a balanced diet and that free milk is provided to pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2 when served as part of universal infant free school meals provision. He also noted that schools are obliged to provide milk to pupils as part of the School Food Standards.

Additionally, Conservative peer Lord Lexden had a written question answered. Asking the Government what guidance has been provided to primary and secondary schools to ensure compliance with the milk requirements of the School Food Standard in England and how schools are required to demonstrate that they have complied with those requirements. Education Minister Lord Nash responded that departmental advice on the School Food Standards, which includes the requirements for milk, is available on and that a summary of the standards and a practical guide are available from the School Food Plan website. He added that school governing bodies are legally responsible for meeting the School Food Standards and that from previous surveys of compliance, the Department are confident that almost all schools are following the new standards appropriately. This question was tabled as a follow-up to a question session initiated by Lord Lexden last month.

We also secured the tabling of three written questions this month. Following our meeting, Mary Glindon MP asked the Education Secretary what steps she plans to take to incorporate the March 2016 revisions to the Eatwell Guide into the planned update to the School Food Standards. Children’s Minister Edward Timpson provided a background to the current School Food Standards and said that as part of the department’s work to tackle childhood obesity it is committed to reviewing the School Food Standards to align with the latest scientific advice on sugar. He added that the Department for Education is in the process of scoping out the timelines for this piece of work and further information will be available later in the year.

Ms Glindon also asked the Defra Secretary what estimate her Department has made of the financial support that the UK will receive from the European School Milk Scheme for the academic year 2017-18; and when her department plans to launch its consultation on implementation of the post-August 2017 European School Milk Scheme. Farming Minister George Eustice said that the UK expects to secure a budget of £3.6 million (€4.2 million) from the European Commission for the 2017-18 school year and that this reflects actual scheme expenditure in the UK in recent years and is one of the largest allocations in the EU. He noted that Defra have already briefed key stakeholders about the new scheme and that, in practice, there are very few substantive changes. However, he added that Defra will consult on the detail of any changes to forms, guidance and scheme administration in the coming weeks.

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