Euro-milk row comes to the boil

11th June 1999 at 01:00
NEARLY Three decades after Margaret Thatcher first rose to "milk-snatcher" notoriety, the Eurocrats are about to finish the job for her.

Despite the combined efforts of HM Government and Britain's farmers, the European Union is planning to axe a pound;10 million subsidy which helps to provide milk for a quarter of all British primary children.

School milk was first abolished in 1971 by the then education secretary, Margaret Thatcher. But the third-of-a-pint bottles have made a surprising, if largely ignored, comeback under New Labour. The EU subsidy only covers a third of the cost to schools, which charge parents up to 13p a go. Campaigners fear that without European money, the milk revival is doomed.

"It's so short-sighted," said a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Farming, which is currently lobbying the European council of ministers over the cut.

Stephanie Spiers, who runs the parent-led campaigning organisation Milk For Schools, said: "Many parents struggle to meet the cost as it is. We want to ensure Europe is in no doubt British parents and schools think this is downright despicable," Not everyone, it seems, is as keen as the parents. Peter Dawson, spokesman for the UK Dairy Federation, alleges that teachers resent "dishing it out and cleaning up the mess".

Nadene Ghouri

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