Parliamentary activity
Meetings and engagement

The Alliance has received positive responses from parliamentarians to its latest wave of engagement, with dates for new meetings to be scheduled with:

  • Conservative MP Rishi Sunak (Member, Environment Select Committee)
  • Liberal Democrat peer Lord Storey (Lords Education Spokesperson)
  • Conservative peer Lord Lexden

These meetings will allow the Alliance to build support on issues such as the School Food Standards, the European School Milk Scheme, and the Nursery Milk Scheme, as well as the provision of milk to children more generally. Lord Lexden is an enthusiastic supporter of school milk and has already agreed to ask an oral question – we are liaising with him to determine the most effective wording and subject matter. We will continue to secure further parliamentary meetings, and secure dates for other parliamentarians that we have agreed meetings with in principle:

  • Labour MP Andrew Gwynne (Shadow Health Minister)
  • SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie (Member, Environment Select Committee; Vice Chair, Health Select Committee)
  • Labour MP Diana Johnson (Vice Chair, School Food APPG; Vice Chair, Fit and Healthy Childhood APPG)

The Alliance is also liaising with SNP Health Spokesperson Dr Philippa Whitford, whose office suggested that she may be interested in meeting with the Alliance. We are currently discussing this with her office.

Westminster Hall debate, UK dairy sector

Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams, who the Alliance met with in March 2016, secured a 90 minute Westminster Hall debate on the UK dairy sector. The Alliance briefed Williams ahead of the debate, along with other supportive MPs and those from dairy producing constituencies. Williams subsequently asked Environment Minister Rory Stewart whether the Government will continue to participate in the revised European School Milk Scheme, what plans it has to consult with stakeholders when developing the scheme, and what discussions the Government has had with the dairy industry about how it can benefit from the scheme. Unfortunately, Rory Stewart could not respond as he received 31 questions and only had seven minutes to respond – he will now write to Williams directly to answer his questions.

Other topics discussed included procurement of milk by schools, as well as various criticisms of the Eatwell Guide, which it was argued was created with consultation with the dairy industry and is not scientifically grounded. We will be in contact with Williams to keep updated on the Minister’s response to the questions on the European School Milk Scheme, and we will continue to follow up with the Dairy APPG on activity related to the Eatwell Guide.

Parliamentary questions

Following meetings with the Alliance, Shadow Childcare Minister Jenny Chapman tabled three written questions on the School Food Standards, asking the Education Secretary: what representations the Department for Education has received from primary schools on the requirement to make available during the school day; what guidance has been provided to schools on their compliance with the milk requirements of the School Food Standards; and what assessment she has made of the effect of the School Food Standards on milk consumption in primary schools.  Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah responded that the Government has received one piece of correspondence on milk in recent months, and that the Department of Health does not collect data on the consumption of schools. The Department for Education notified schools about the School Food Standards through termly communications with schools.

SNP MP Dr Lisa Cameron (Vice-Chair, Dairy APPG) also tabled two written questions on the European School Milk Scheme, asking: what allocation the UK expects to receive in each of the next three years; and what assessment her Department has made of the potential effect of the revised European School Milk Scheme on dairy farmers in the UK. Farming Minister George Eustice responded that the UK will receive €9,804,331 annually between 1st August 2017 and 31st July 2023, and that Defra will consult with stakeholders on the implementation of the revised scheme.

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