Could the hon. Gentleman tell me whether there has been any decrease in Coventry and, if there has, whether it is lesser or bigger than that in any other industrial cities? In general, has such a decrease affected the health of young children? What does the Ministry propose to do about it?
So far as I am aware, it has not affected the health of young children. I have no figures relating solely to other industrial cities, but looking at the national picture as a whole, on average, it is about the same: some increase in take-up of orange juice, some fall in cod liver oil.
Does the hon. Gentleman recollect that last week, when there were a number of similar Questions on the Paper, I asked him what advice his scientific advisers had given him on this question of the decrease in consumption of welfare foods and that he was then unable to answer the question? Can he answer it today?
My recollection of the matter is that I answered it at the time by saying that the question of the possible late appearance of deficiency characteristics in children was a matter which my scientific advisers had certainly taken into account as well as the right hon. Lady's. and that they considered that, on balance, the advice which they gave us, which was scientific advice, was correct.
I ask the Parliamentary Secretary or the Minister to answer this question. A number of hon. Members on both sides of the House have put down Questions asking about the decrease in the consumption of orange juice and cod liver oil. I want to be fair in this matter, because there is a thought in my mind of a report on the over-consumption of orange juice. Therefore, I am asking the Parliamentary Secretary, for his sake and his Department's sake, as well as that of hon. Members, to tell us precisely what is the view of his scientific advisers with regard to the decrease in consumption. There is a scientific aspect to this matter. Will he tell the House?
I had hoped I had answered that. The point is this. There has not been a decrease in take-up of orange juice amongst those classes of children still entitled to take it up. There has been some decrease in take-up of cod liver oil, and this is largely associated with the fact that the recommendation now is that children should take it by the drop and not by the spoonful.