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Troubled history

1920: the National Milk Publicity Council of England and Wales was formed to raise the level of milk consumption; 1927: the schoolmilk scheme was introduced under which one-third of a pint of milk could be bought for one old penny (just under half a penny); 1934: under the Milk Act, the newly-established Milk Marketing Board took over responsibility forthe scheme. Government subsidies allowed all children in elementary (primary) schools to buy one-third of a pint ofmilk for only a halfpenny. Children from poorer homes receivedfree milk;

1944: the 1944 Education Act gave all schoolchildren an entitlement to free milk. The Milk in Schools Scheme was extended to independent schools; 1968: Harold Wilson's Labour government withdrew free milk from secondary schools. The decision also affected many independent primary schools; 1970: legislation was passed giving junior pupils in middle schools free milk; 1971: Conservative education secretary Margaret Thatcher discontinued free school milk to pupils at the end of the summer term after they reached seven; 1977: the European Union (formerly the European Economic Community) introduced subsidies for schoolmilk schemes inmember countries; 1980: legislation relieves local education authorities of the legal obligation to providefree milk. The questionof whether and howto provide it became a matter for individual authorities to decide. Many compromised by selling milk to schoolsat reduced prices; 1981: education authorities could buy milk at 9p a pint under the EU subsidy scheme with a 25 per cent local authority contribution; 1983: compulsory national contribution to the school milk scheme ended. The EU subsidy on whole milk rose to nearly 12.5 p a pint; 1986: the Social Security Act removedthe power of local authorities to providefree school milk. Authorities could still apply for the EU school milk subsidy; 1995: Chancellor Kenneth Clarke announced the demise of the EU milk scheme for secondary schools and school cateringin general. The UK turned away Pounds 6 millionin subsidies from theEU for a scheme which cost Pounds 4m; 1996: the only partof the school milk scheme still in existence in Britain is the eligibility of primary school children for subsidised milk (0.25 litres,0.44 pints) or plain yoghurt (100g).

Young children inboth private and state nurseries, children from income support families and special school children can be provided with free milk under the Welfare Scheme, the EU scheme or the Social Security Act 1986.

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