Election 2015Voters will go to the polls on 7 May 2015 to elect new Members of Parliament and so a new government.

Baby Milk Action has asked all political parties represented in national parliaments about their policies on infant feeding (letters sent 30 January – 1 February). We have posted the responses received so far on this page. Click here for our full letter.

At the bottom of the page we tell you how to contact the parties that have not answered – or visit our Twitter stream and re-tweet our calls for them to do so.

Our two questions are summarised below.

1. Will your party fully implement the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding in the UK?

The UK supported the adoption of the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in 2002. Actions agreed under the Global Strategy include implementing the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant WHA Resolutions.

Other actions to be taken under the Global Strategy include appointing a National Infant Feeding Coordinator (the post was scrapped in 2010) and a National Infant Feeding committee. The UK Government will be assessed on the full list of the policy areas by IBFAN’s World Breastfeeding Trends initiative. For details see the web page of the WBTi UK working group hosted by LCGB.

2. Will your party reinstate the National Infant Feeding Survey?

In supporting the Global Strategy, the UK Government agreed ‘to establish a system to monitor regularly feeding practices, assess trends using sex-disaggregated data and evaluate the impact of interventions.’

Accordingly, will your party reinstate the National Infant Feeding Survey, which takes place every five years? The survey for 2015 has been cancelled and other statistics gathered are insufficient to gauge the success of interventions or indeed the impact of their cancellation.

(Additional note: The UK Government’s submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on 24 May 2014 uses the statistics from the National Infant Feeding Survey to demonstrate breastfeeding trends).

Political Party responses (in order received)

Scottish National Party

Social Democratic and Labour Party

Green Party

The following responded in the final days before the election, thanks to people like you pressing them to answer.

The Liberal Democrats

Labour Party

Other parties have not yet responded – their contact details are given below. Feel free to contact them with the link to this page to prompt them to respond.

Donations in support of Baby Milk Action’s work are welcome.


Scottish National Party – @theSNP

Response on a separate page

1. Will your party fully implement the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding in the UK?

Thank you for your email of 30 January requesting clarification on SNP policy on Infant and Young Child Feeding.

In response to the question regarding the party fully implementing the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding in the UK, I would like to state the following.

In terms of the World Health Organisation (WHO) International Code on Marketing of Breastfeeding Milk Substitute that was launched in 1981, the UK Government is a signatory. In 1995 the UK Government implemented Infant Formula and Follow on Formula Regulations rather than the WHO code. Since this is a reserved matter, the Scottish Government do not currently have the powers to implement the WHO code in full.

This was an underpinning element of the Scottish Government framework “Improving Maternal and Infant Nutrition: A Framework for Action” published in 2011. http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2011/01/13095228/0

We have implemented the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) across all maternity, community and neonatal units in Scotland. As part this work, UNICEF require Health professionals in accredited units to comply with the code and for the NHS to have (the parts they can adopt) in policy.

The Scottish Government fund UNICEF to deliver BFI accreditation in maternity hospitals and in community settings in Scotland. Progress is being made nationally with 84% of births in Scotland taking place in a BFI accredited hospital, compared to 34% in England, 58% in Wales and 57% in Northern Ireland.

Our aim is to increase this to 100% by 2015 and currently in Scotland 81.4% of maternity hospitals have achieved Baby Friendly accreditation. Again Scotland is progressing well compared to England (31%); Wales (32%) and Northern Ireland (60%); who have achieved Baby Friendly accreditation.

We have just committed to funding the role of Professional Officer for Scotland for financial year 2015/16. This will allow UNICEF to provide dedicated support to NHS Boards in achieving and maintaining BFI accreditation.

We have had a National Maternal and Infant Nutrition co-ordinator in post since 2008 to support the development and implementation of our national framework. We meet with our MIN leads on a regular basis to be kept informed of progress in the implementation of the framework.

NHS Health Scotland support the Scottish Infant Feeding Advisors (SIFAN) network, and Scottish Government engage with this group on a regular basis. We also have Maternal and Infant Nutrition (MIN) leads who support the implementation of our national framework, but also link in locally with the Infant Feeding Advisors.

2. Will your party reinstate the National Infant Feeding Survey?

In response to your question on whether the SNP will reinstate the National Infant Feeding Survey, the Scottish Government is currently exploring options around a National Infant Feeding Survey, to ensure any data collected is relevant to Scotland.

Yours sincerely,

Maureen Watt MSP
Aberdeen South and North Kincardine

Social Democratic and Labour Party – @SDLPlive

Response on a separate page

Re: Policy on Infant and Young Child Feeding

Thank you for your letter of the 1st February about the SDLPs position on Infant and Young Child Feeding.

As a social justice party the SDLP have consistently called for excellent and efficient healthcare for people of all ages and as such we support provisions which seek to enhance the life quality of any young child in Northern Ireland. We recognise that in order for future generations to get the best start parents and more specifically mothers should be properly supported through access to relevant, accurate and independent information in regards raising their child.

The SDLP note that breast milk is the only natural food designed for babies that can help them fight infections and diseases while also helping to lower the chance of infant diarrhoea or vomiting. As a healthy and practical alternative to formula the SDLP would support measures which would encourage the rise in breastfeeding, help reduce public stigma of breastfeeding and raise awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding.

1. Will your party fully implement the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding in the UK?

The SDLP have reviewed the global strategy and we have identified several positive aspects of it. We recognise that even as a developed country the children of the Northern Ireland may still be at risk of poor feeding and its consequences. As such the SDLP would support all legislation which seeks to protect and improve the lives of infants and young children within Northern Ireland and within the United Kingdom at large. The SDLPs MPs and MLAs will engage constructively with the introduction of any strategy at regional or national parliamentary levels.

2. Will your party reinstate the National Infant Feeding Survey?

The SDLP would support the reintroduction of the National Infant Feeding Survey as part of a larger strategy aiming to provide relevant and accurate information for mothers and society at large. A National Infant Feeding Survey would provide a system to help monitor feeding practices, assess trends and hopefully help detail the impact of interventions.

Best regards,

Fearghal McKinney MLA

Green Party – @TheGreenParty

Response on a separate page

1. Will your party fully implement the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding in the UK?

The Green Party will support in full the implementation of the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and the subsequent WHA resolutions. The necessary powers would be allocated to the Food Standards Agency and Local Authority staff. [Further details below].

2. Will your party reinstate the National Infant Feeding Survey?

We don’t have a specific policy on the National Infant Feeding Survey, but do propose an extensive range of interventions to promote and normalise breast-feeding, so a beneficial means of assessment may be adopted.

Our full policies on breast-feeding and artificial feeding products are the following:

HE311 The Green Party will work to ensure that:

  • Pregnant women are given the facts about how to breastfeed, and also the benefits and challenges of breastfeeding so that they can make an informed choice about how to feed their babies.
  • Hospitals provide the counselling and advice by trained NHS staff to enable breastfeeding to be established straight after birth, should the mother wish to breastfeed. Special help will be given to women immediately after birth if they are in pain, ill, or exhausted by a difficult labour. Disabled women and those with babies with special needs will be given specialist help to establish breastfeeding.
  • It becomes an offence to stop nursing mothers from breastfeeding their children in public places (including the breastfeeding of toddlers in premises where children are already allowed). Businesses that break the law, or whose employees break the law, will face significant fines.
  • Public buildings and shops are encouraged to provide breastfeeding facilities for women who wish to breastfeed in a private, comfortable, quiet place. Councils are required to provide breastfeeding facilities in all their significant buildings open to the public, such as town halls and libraries.
  • Breastfeeding mothers who return to work are made aware of, and encouraged to take advantage of, their legal right to take breastfeeding breaks.
  • Steps be taken in order to normalise breastfeeding, including improving education in schools, public awareness campaigns, and reassurances given by breastfeeding counsellors regarding the legitimacy of public breastfeeding.
  • The provision of enough around the clock breastfeeding counselling services to support women who have problems with breastfeeding, and expand the networks of breastfeeding mothers set up locally for women to be able to give each other help.

HE312 The Green Party will institute a complete review of the regulations regarding the promotion of artificial feeding products and the accompanying equipment to make it possible for families to make decisions about infant feeding without commercial pressure. We will support in full the implementation of the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and the subsequent WHA resolutions. Powers would be allocated to the appropriate bodies to enforce the regulations, with education as needed for Food Standards Agency and Local Authority staff. (See: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/he.html#HE311)

Kind regards,


Rosa Elswood
Policy Officer
The Green Party of England and Wales
Development House, 56-64 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4LT

Liberal Democrats – @LibDems

(Many thanks to Baby Milk Action member, Melissa Wadams, for getting this response – click here to see how she did it).

Response on a separate page

Thank you for your email enquiring about the Liberal Democrats views on infant feeding. We recognise that this is an extremely important issue and we welcome the recommendations in the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, developed by the World Health Organisation with UNICEF.

Improving the health of young children has been a priority during our time in Government. As you may be aware, in February 2013 the Government signed a pledge for ‘better health outcomes for children and young people’, along with other stakeholders from across healthcare and local government.

The Department of Health works collaboratively with the National Infant Feeding Steering Group, bringing together experts in this field including Public Health England, NHS England and UNICEF UK.

In December 2013, the Department allocated £80,000 of funding for UNICEF to develop two projects to maintain and develop the National Infant Feeding Network and promote care and compassion through infant feeding as part of midwifery and health visiting services. This includes services being delivered in neonatal units and at children’s centres.

In 2013, the Department of Health also wrote to healthcare professionals – including GPs, practice nurses and health visitors – to raise awareness of best practice in the preparation of infant formula, and to restate the Department’s guidance on this, in line with guidance from the World Health Organisation.

The Liberal Democrat Manifesto sets out a commitment to review the support and advice available to parents on early child nutrition and breastfeeding.

Any review will take into account the important role of the Infant Feeding Survey and will look at how we continue to monitor trends in infant feeding, including considering whether the National Infant Feeding Survey is the best way of doing this.

We appreciate the need to monitor the ways in which children are being fed, as well as exploring issues such as the types of problems mothers may have experienced while breastfeeding, which are also covered in the survey.

From 1st October 2015, the responsibility for commissioning children’s public health services, including health visitors, will transfer from NHS England to local authorities.

The National Heath Visiting Core Service Specification 2015-16 sets out how the Health Visiting Service workforce will support young children and their families in this coming year. Among the range of outcomes which will be improved by an effective 0-5 years’ public health nursing service are improving breastfeeding initiation and increasing breastfeeding prevalence at 6-8 weeks. The specification also sets out that one of the key objectives of the health visiting service is to promote breastfeeding, healthy nutrition and healthy lifestyles.

The Department of Health has also developed six documents on ‘high impact areas’, to support local authorities in preparation for the new commissioning arrangements, and to identify areas where health visitors have the most impact on children’s health and wellbeing.

Two of these high impact areas nutrition are: Breastfeeding (initiation and duration), and Healthy weight, healthy nutrition.

Kind regards,

Humaira Khanom | Member and Supporter Services

Labour Party – @LabourParty

Response on a separate page

(Received from Luciana Berger, Labour Public Health Spokesperson)

Thank you for writing to me, on behalf of the Baby Feeding Law Group, about the Labour Party’s policy on infant and young child feeding.

The Labour Party has been a strong supporter of breastfeeding as it ensures a healthy start for infants, and promotes women’s health. The previous Labour Government launched the Infant Feeding Initiative in 1999, as part of the government’s commitment to improving health inequalities and between 1999 and 2002 nearly £3m was spent on funding 79 different projects. The focus of all these projects was the development of innovative practices that aimed to increase the incidence and duration of breastfeeding, especially amongst those groups who were least likely to breastfeed.

Increasing breastfeeding rates by two percentage points per year with a focus on mothers from disadvantaged groups was a specific target in the Department of Health’s Priorities and Planning Framework for England 2003-2006.

The previous Labour government supported the adoption of the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding in the UK. Unfortunately the progress we have seen in implementation under this Government has been disappointing. It is very concerning that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child concluded the UK’s implementation of the strategy is inadequate. This is an issue that a Labour Government would seek to address, if elected on Thursday.

I also share your concerns about the cancellation of the National Infant Feeding Survey, especially because of the inadequacy of other data that is gathered in relation to infant feeding interventions, as you highlight in your letter. In government we will explore options for carrying out a National Infant Feeding Survey in consultation with key stakeholders and the devolved administrations.

I hope you have found this response helpful.

Best wishes


Luciana Berger
Parliamentary Candidate for Liverpool Wavertree


Parties that have not responded (in alphabetical order)

Our letter was sent to the health and public health spokespeople and/or the general contact for policy issues.

Letter were sent by both email and post, wherever possible, during the period 30 January – 1 February.

Feel free to contact the parties using the details below or your own methods. You can send them the link to this page and ask them to submit their policies to us via this website or by emailing: info@babymilkaction.org

You can also retweet our messages on Twitter calling on these parties to respond to our questions. This will bring these tweets to the top of their pages. You will find a quick link to our Twitter stream at the top of every page. The Twitter addresses for the parties are given below to send them your own messages.

Alliance Party – @allianceparty 

Health spokesperson, Kieran McCarthy MLA. General email: alliance@allianceparty.org.

Also sent to health spokesperson address: Health spokesperson, Alliance Party, 14 South Street Newtownards, BT23 4JT.

Conservative Party – @Conservatives 

Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP. Minister for Public Health, Jane Ellison MP.

Also sent to Campaign HQ: Conservative Campaign Headquarters, 4 Matthew Parker Street, London.

Democratic Unionist Party – @duponline

Health spokesperson, Jim Shannon MP. General email: info@mydup.com

Plaid Cymru – @Plaid_Cymru 

No health spokesperson identified. General email: post@plaidcymru.org.

Also sent to: Election 2015 Policy Team, Plaid Cymru, Tŷ Gwynfor, Anson Court, Atlantic Wharf, Cardiff, CF10 4AL.

Respect – @ukrespectparty 

No health spokesperson identified. No address given on website. General email: contact@respectparty.org


Health spokesperson, Louise Bours MEP. General email: mail@ukip.org.

Also sent to contact address: UKIP, Lexdrum House, King Charles Business Park, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 6UT.


Donations in support of Baby Milk Action’s work are welcome.