EU School Fruit Scheme In Scotland Scuppered By UK

02 September 2010

"London taking berries from the mouths of babes"

SNP Member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Alyn Smith has today backed calls by SNP colleagues for the UK government to allow the Scottish government to make full use of an EU budget which makes EU funds available to provide fruit to school children.

Smith said:

"I would say this takes the biscuit, but the truth is it takes the berries out of the mouths of babes.

"I was delighted, and enthusiastically backed, the EU school fruit scheme when it was first proposed, worked on it through the last mandate and the very day it was approved made sure our Ministers knew about it to get Scotland to the front of the queue. We did this, secured the funding and it could provide a massive boost towards achieving our aim of every child having fruit at school as well as providing an additional market for Scots producers, but instead we are prevented from accessing the cash because so much of it will be clawed back because we're part of the UK.

"It is all the more ironic that the very day after this was revealed, the Agriculture Committee voted to increase the budget available, meaning that Scots school children are missing out on even more.

"When we say we want to see Scotland at the heart of Europe, it is not for the sake of it or to be nice, it is because Scotland is missing a big game, and this is just another example.  Fruit in schools would go a long way to establishing good eating habits in the young, and is being stymied because we are part of the UK."