asked the President of the Board of Education if, seeing that it is a statutory obligation of the Government under the Provision of Meals Acts, 1906 to 1914, to pay half of the expenditure on the provision of meals and that the London County Council made an estimate for an expenditure of £317,000 for 1922–23 for this purpose, he can state the reason why the Board of Education was not prepared to pay to the London County Council more than £65,000 for the feeding of school children; what amount of money the. Government have granted under the Provision of Meals Acts, 1906 to 1914; and if he will take action in the matter?
I may remind the hon. Member that the statutory obligation imposed upon the Board, under Section 44 (2) of the Education Act, 1918, to pay grant in aid of the expenditure of local education authorities, applies only to such expenditure as is recognised by them as expenditure in aid of which Parliamentary grants should be made to the authority, and for reasons which I stated in my reply, on the 4th April last, to the hon. Member for the Northern Division of New-castle-upon-Tyne (Mr. Doyle), the Government decided that the Board were not justified in recognising an expenditure under this head in excess of £300,000 for the current year. The revised estimates of local authorities for this service amounted to about £438,000, and, upon a review of all the circumstances, I did not see how I could equitably allocate more than £65,000 out of the available £300,000 to this service in London.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, in consequence of the Board's cutting down of expenditure under this Act, much distress will be caused, and many thousands of poor children will go without any meal at all for days together?