Babies could soon be charged for suckling at their mother’s teat, if a controversial new proposal is given the green light.
Following Downing Street’s decision not to abolish the Nursery Milk scheme, the Department of Health has turned to an alternative and even more controversial austerity measure. Ministers have not yet confirmed exactly how it would work, but favourite options are believed to be: introducing a ‘milk tax’ which children will pay once they start earning pocket money; or allowing toddlers to sign over to the Treasury any profits from selling their milk teeth to the tooth fairy.
Public Health Minister, Anne Milton, defended the proposal, saying, ‘Back in my day, plenty of babies would have given their eye teeth for delicious, nutritious breast milk, and now they may have to. And why not? Babies have been sucking their mothers dry for far too long. It’s about time they stopped putting their welfare first and thought a bit more about the country’s coffers, just as we have done at the Department of Health.’
So far, the proposal has been met with widespread derision, with only the Royal College of Wet Nursing showing any support for it. Critics have estimated that the scheme could result in children leaving primary school with debts totalling several pounds. Meanwhile, analysts have said that children from the poorest families may not be able to pay at all, resulting in, at best, a stint in a young offenders institute for tax evasion, and at worst, a lifetime of people laughing at their bandy legs.
Retailers are understandably up in arms. From independent newsagents to toy manufacturers, they fear that in the midst of an economic slump, reduced spending from the influential 3-7 year old market may send them out of business. Ashok Patel, from the Pick and Mix Retailers Association (PAMRA), said, ‘I have a hundredweight of Flumps filling an aircraft hangar just outside Basingstoke. How am I going to shift them if the local urchins don’t have any money?’
Mothers have also been quick to condemn the scheme. Speaking on the mumsnet website, supermodel Gisele Bundchen raged, ‘Babies are known for being tight with their money. Some earn hundreds of pounds at birth and then put it in a trust for eighteen years without spending a single penny on clothes. What makes the Government think they will pay for milk?! And if they won’t pay for it, they won’t get it, and if mothers can’t breastfeed, they won’t get back in shape so quickly. This could cost us mums millions of dollars in lost modelling contracts.’