‘Our position is the right one’ - Norfolk MP defends voting against free school meal extension
- Credit: Archant
A Norfolk MP has defended his position not to vote for the extension of free school meals for children during the school holidays during a Sunday morning politics show.
Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth, appeared on Sophy Ridge’s Sky show to defend the government’s position on not extending free school meals during the half-term holidays.
he topic has been much publicised by Marcus Rashford MBE, with numerous businesses around the country coming forward to step in after Labour’s motion was turned down.
Mr Lewis told the show that he had not changed his mind on the issue.
He said: “I know this is a very emotive issue and it is something that affects families in my constituency.
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“I think the position we have taken is the right one because what we are trying to do is ensure we look at child poverty at the core and put the structure in place so that children in the school holidays can get access to the food they need.
“We support free school meals and they have been around since 1996.”
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But when questioned on whether he supports them during the school holidays, he argued they were not a necessary measure because schools are closed.
MORE: Where to go for help in feeding your child over half term“By definition schools are not open in the holidays, we are in a different place to where we were in the summer where we had a full lockdown,” he said.
“99% are now open and they are going into that period of school holiday, schools are closed.”
Conservative MP for Harwich and North Essex, Bernard Jenkin, argued on the same show that the government had misjudged the mood of the nation after Mr Rashford’s campaign.
But Mr Lewis finished by arguing it was up to local authorities and councils to offer support.
He said: “Local authorities know their areas best and are closer to the residents they serve and they can put the schemes in place that they believe will serve to make sure people have that extra support, very targeted and very direct support.
“We are seeing councils around the country doing that already for this week very directly.”
Mike Smith-Clare, Labour’s children’s services leader in Norfolk, said: “It is glaringly obvious the utter contempt these privileged elected individuals hold our children and young people in. To condemn young lives to hunger and desperation is a crime against humanity and social decency. No amount of spin, pretence and handwringing can hide their true undeniable cruelty.”