I was away for the weekend so missed the fun, being dependent upon relaid bulletins from the radio - at breakfast time the Con Dem's were going to cancel free milk for the under 5's, by lunchtime, they (the Con Dem's) had changed their minds and the under 5's milk was safe! So there we are, after a few hours of confusion this morning, everything is back to normal - no doubt down to that nice Mr Cameron (ensconced in No 10) who acted swiftly to save the children's milk or perhaps to prevent a damaging media storm of comparisons between Mrs T (in the 1970's) and the Con Dem's (in the 2010's).
Apparently this all started when the Health minister, Anne Milton, wrote to Government colleagues in Scotland suggesting that the Department of Health was considering scrapping milk for nursery and primary school children by April next year as part of cost saving measures. The scheme costs around £50m, double what it was five years ago and was expected to rise to £59m by 2011/12. However, as the leaked letter was being reported by the BBC, No 10 swiftly released a press statement saying the scheme would remain.
Further developments followed as the Department of Health was forced to hurriedly revise its stance saying scrapping school milk had been under consideration but had now been "ruled out". It is thought No 10 acted again to over-rule health ministers as it was feared comparisons would be made to Margaret Thatcher who was haunted by the nickname of "Maggie the Milk Snatcher" for scrapping free school milk for older children in 1971 when she was education secretary, for years.
Downing Street stated that Prime Minister David Cameron apparently "did not like" the idea of scrapping the free milk scheme. The Nursery Milk scheme which allows children under five in approved day care to receive 189ml (1/3 pint) of milk each day free of charge, owes its origins to a scheme which dates back to 1940, when milk was issued to pregnant women and young children to protect them against wartime food shortages.
The Department of Health has somewhat hurriedly revised its stance saying scrapping school milk had been under consideration but had now been "ruled out". Now we may be in for some interesting times ahead within the Con Dem coalition as senior Liberal Democrats are on the record praising the provision of free milk. Now the costs of the scheme (some £50 million at the moment) may appear pretty steep to you and me, but, by way of comparison with the costs of replacing Trident, paying for the banks greed driven blunders and the new aircraft carriers they pale into insignificance.
Did the Con Dems seriously suggest as cost cutting measures that we take away under 5 year olds school milk to pay off the shambolic banking disasters, good grief! seriously it's time to get a grip!