Milk plan turns sour as Westminster performs U turn

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UK Department of Health calls to scrap free nursery milk in Scotland have been abandoned by Downing Street after complaints by Scottish government ministers.

Conservative Health Minister Anne Milton had planned to scrap the scheme claiming it was too costly.  The UK government has the power to end the scheme despite costs being met by Holyrood.


UK Department of Health calls to scrap free nursery milk in Scotland have been abandoned by Downing Street after complaints by Scottish government ministers.

Conservative Health Minister Anne Milton had planned to scrap the scheme claiming it was too costly.  The UK government has the power to end the scheme despite costs being met by Holyrood.

In a letter to Scottish Minister Shona Robison the Conservative MP for Guildford claimed it was an “ineffective universal measure” and that opposition from parents, nurseries, childminders and the media should not prevent it from being ended.

The nursery milk scheme ensures that children under 5 can receive 1/3 of a pint of milk per day free of charge.  As well as providing calories for energy, milk is rich in calcium for growth and bone density and a wide range of nutrients essential to child development.

Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said she had written to the Westminster Department of Health asking them to withdraw the “very damaging” proposal as soon as possible.

Ms Sturgeon said:
“It is vital that children get the best start in life and improving infant nutrition is a huge part of that – not to mention the effect better infant nutrition has on improved health and wellbeing in later life,”

She added.
“Providing milk in nurseries is critical to this continued improvement, and we believe it must continue to be an option for children aged one to five every day.”

The SNP have called on Ms Milton to resign after it emerged that David Cameron not only wasn’t aware of her plans but apparently opposed them.

Scottish National Party MSP for Livingston, Ms Angela Constance, said:
“This is the kind of disarray and shambles usually associated with a government nearing its end, not at its beginning.
 
“They may only have been in office for a few months, but the Con/Dem government has already gone sour.
 
“The only reason the Tories and Lib Dems have u-turned on these damaging and uncaring plans is because they were caught out in Scotland – the coalition’s instincts are clearly exactly the same as those of ‘Thatcher the milk snatcher’.
 
“Not only is this deeply embarrassing for Anne Milton, it is also effectively a vote of no confidence in her and her department by the Prime Minister.
 
“After such a comprehensive put-down, Anne Milton has no choice but to consider her position.  Her clearly stated policy has been poured down the sink by Downing Street because it was rumbled in Scotland, and she has no credibility left as a public health minister.”

“After such a comprehensive put-down, Anne Milton has no choice but to consider her position.  Her clearly stated policy has been poured down the sink by Downing Street because it was rumbled in Scotland, and she has no credibility left as a public health minister.”

In 1996 the Labour government removed funding from the school milk scheme subsidies to secondary schools.  In the early 1970’s Margaret Thatcher ended free milk for children over seven years of age, the act led to the slogan ‘Thatcher, Thatcher – milk snatcher’.