Education (Scotland) Bill.

Part of Supplementary Vote of Credit, 1941. – in the House of Commons on 16th December 1941.

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Photo of Mr Joseph Westwood Mr Joseph Westwood , Stirling and Falkirk District of Burghs

It is left to the local authorities. The hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd) said that this is a Socialist Measure. I am proud to be able to stand at this Box and see even a small Measure of this kind brought forward to remove the many obstacles which have stood in the way of feeding school children. My first local election was in 1909, when I was fighting for the retention of Section 6 of the 1908 Act because it made it possible, despite all the obstacles, to feed necessitous school children. Practical experience showed me how difficult it was. One had to satisfy a reactionary school board and one had to call the parents. Sometimes I sat for three hours in the evenings seeing the parents of school children and hearing them say, "Yes, that application form is signed by me—I have four children at school—I have no wages—I am unemployed—I am poor—I cannot feed my children." It was nauseating to me, and undoubtedly, it was degrading to the parents, but they were willing to do it for the sake of their children. All those obstacles of the past are now going. I do not claim that this is a Socialist Measure. It is a war-time Measure. We are calling mothers into the Services, into munitions-making, and into the factories. I wonder whether the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew expects us to get a full response to appeals for women to come into industry if we do not make the necessary provision for the children. Clause 1, Sub-section (1) gives only an optional power to the education authority. It says that: An education authority may purchase and provide food for the purpose of supplying meals to children attending any school in their area both on days when the school meets and on other days. This will enable the authorities to make for the children that provision which, in many instances, it is impossible for the mothers to make at the present time. Surely, the hon. and gallant Member has forgotten the bombed homes in Scotland and the conditions in which many of our children have to be looked after in the homes to which they have been evacuated. In many cases there are not adequate cooking facilities, and no matter what the mother may desire, it is absolutely impossible for her, with the facilities at her disposal, to provide a well-balanced and well-cooked meal.