Letter: `Worst' schools

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The Independent Culture
Sir: My plan to provide free school milk and a muesli bar to all London primary children would not cost not pounds 200m per year (report, 24 February), but around pounds 30m. Indeed, it would probably cost the taxpayer nothing at all, as I firmly believe that I would be able to get the scheme fully sponsored.

London suffers the worst primary health care in the country, and our children are among the least healthy in Europe. We also have some of the worst exam results. Poor nutrition is a leading factor in poor health, and it can also affect work in schools. Teachers report that many children come to school without proper breakfasts. Children who have not had an adequate breakfast are more likely to be distracted in school.

That is why I want to bring back free school milk. Except that I believe we should go one better: a muesli bar and a choice of milk or juice. Even if we had to pay the full cost of purchase and distribution, I believe the cost represents an excellent investment.

Last week I announced my plan to make utilities pay for digging up roads - renting the space at a per hour, per square foot rate. This would force them to co-ordinate their activities, work faster, and therefore reduce congestion and resulting pollution. It would also raise around pounds 200m per year in London - more than enough to pay for my school breakfasts and my express bus system.

JEFFREY ARCHER

(Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare)

House of Lords

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