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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 September 2005, 20:02 GMT 21:02 UK
Wales backs school junk food ban
Jane Davidson
It's not a question of following England, it's saying 'well done' because we now have a route to really tighten up regulations
Jane Davidson
Wales is poised to join England in banning junk food from schools.

Education in Wales is devolved, and Welsh Education Minister Jane Davidson said the assembly government would examine the UK government's plans.

Assembly power is limited, and she said everything possible had already been done, before the changes announced by her UK counterpart, Ruth Kelly.

Plaid Cymru said it had called for the ban since 2002 and had been mocked by other parties for doing so.

Ms Kelly announced at the Labour Party conference in Brighton that vending machines in schools in England will not be allowed to sell foods high in fat, salt or sugar such as chocolates, crisps or fizzy drinks.

Ms Davidson described it as "a great day," but argued that Wales had led the way in clamping down on unhealthy school food.

She listed some of the initiatives already under way in Wales, such as healthy vending machines in all Pembrokeshire secondary schools, fruit tuck shops and water coolers.

"We have done almost everything we can without primary legislation," Ms Davidson told BBC Radio Wales.

Children queue for school meals
Action has already begun to make Welsh school meals healthier
"What Ruth Kelly has done today is offered us that primary legislation route.

Vending machines

"So it's not a question of following England, it's saying 'well done' because we now have a primary legislative route to really tighten up regulations and ensure that our schools are healthy environments."

Ms Davidson said she would be delighted to improve school meals, and the assembly government would work with Westminster to see what was right for Wales.

"But what I can say to parents and schools across Wales that this assembly government will maintain its commitment to healthy food," she added.

Plaid AM Janet Ryder said: "Plaid Cymru have been calling on the Government of Wales to ban junk food in schools since our conference in September 2002.

"We were ridiculed by other parties when we made our call."

Most teaching unions support a ban, and the National Association of Head Teachers in Wales said the income schools received from vending machines needed to be examined.

But the Secondary Heads Association said a ban was impractical and children would continue to eat unhealthily outside school. It said a "whole school" approach was needed to teach children about healthy food.

See what schoolchildren think of the junk food ban

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