BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Scotland  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Free school meals move fails
Children eating
The Bill was rejected by MSPs
MSPs have voted against Tommy Sheridan's Bill to provide free school meals.

Amid rowdy scenes in the Scottish Parliament chamber, 74 members voted against the Bill with only 37 in favour.

The Scottish Socialist Party leader said the 174m annual cost of providing free school meals to all children would be money well spent.

He insisted it would improve children's diet and tackle child poverty.

The Scottish National Party supported the Bill but the Scottish Executive voted against it, saying the money would be better targeted towards those who really needed it.

Tommy Sheridan
Tommy Sheridan introduced the Bill

Labour and Conservative MSPs on the Scottish Parliament's all-party education committee, who scrutinised Mr Sheridan's Member's Bill, failed to recommend that it should be passed by the full parliament.

The committee's report instead recommended other measures for improving nutrition in schools.

These included free drinking water to be available in all schools, free milk for those at an age where this is "critical" for preventing tooth decay and discouraging the availability of commercial soft drinks.

The use of vending machines in schools should also be "questioned" and the stigma attached to free school meals addressed, perhaps, said the report, by using swipe cards.

'Shining example'

However, Mr Sheridan's party has cited Finland as a "shining example" of why school meals should be made freely available to all.

The SSP says that all school children from ages seven to 18 are entitled to free school meals in Finland.

Strict nutritional guidelines are laid down there and a meal would normally consist of fresh salad, milk and bread with a main course of either meat or fish.

Nicol Stephen
Nicol Stephen said the executive cannot afford 174m

The Finns believe good school meals are important because it gives children a model for the rest of their lives.

Ulla Marja Urho, of Helsinki's education board, said: "We think it is part of teaching manners, having the same type of food for everyone and promoting health and equality.

"It has some socio-political significance because children aren't dependent on their parents' way of living to get proper food."

But the executive remains committed to targeting of funds to improve nutrition.

Deputy education minister Nicol Stephen told BBC Radio Scotland: "I'm simply saying that at this present time we don't have 170m to introduce free school meals.

"What we do want to do, though, is a series of more targeted measures that will achieve a lot of the outcomes that Finland has achieved and there is no doubting the fact that Scotland remains the unhealthy person of Europe and also the unhealthy young person of Europe and we need to do more."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Ulla Marja Urho of Helsinki's education board
"Children aren't dependent on their parents' way of living to get proper food"
Deputy education minister Nicol Stephen
"We don't deny that a great deal remains to be done"
Aileen Clarke reports
"It's giving the executive major indigestion"
See also:

14 Jun 02 | Scotland
19 Nov 01 | Scotland
29 Oct 01 | Scotland
18 Sep 01 | Scotland
08 May 01 | UK Education
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Scotland stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Scotland stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes