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Labour forces vote on free school meals

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Boris Johnson is facing increasing pressure to extend free school meals over the holidays.

Labour is forcing a vote in parliament on plans to extend free school meals over the school holidays, after the government refused to extend support to more than 1.4 million children in the October half term.

On Saturday, Labour called for the Prime Minister to change course and provide free school meals to all eligible children during the holidays – warning that if he did not do so a vote would be forced in Parliament.

The Labour party has now confirmed that there will be a vote in Parliament on this issue tomorrow (Wednesday 21 October) led by deputy leader Angela Rayner MP.

Labour has tabled a motion on which all MPs can vote to support or oppose the extension of free school meals.

The motion calls on the government to continue directly funding provision of free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021 to prevent more than a million children going hungry during the coronavirus crisis.

Yesterday, Tulip Siddiq MP, Labour’s shadow minister for children and early years, wrote to all Conservative backbench MPs, asking them to support Labour’s proposals.

Kate Green MP, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for education, said: “Over a million children are at risk of going hungry over the holidays without access to free school meals. It is essential the Government provides this support urgently.

“We gave the prime minister the chance to change course, but he refused to do so. Now his MPs must decide if they want to vote for their constituents to get this vital support or if they will leave families struggling to put food on the table.”

The move came after the Prime Minister’s spokesperson rejected the call of campaigners, including footballer Marcus Rashford.

The Manchester United and England striker started a petition calling for the end of child food poverty last week. It’s now had more than 297,000 signatures. Petitions on the parliament website are considered for debate in the Commons when they reach 100,000 signatures.

Rashford, who is working in partnership with FareShare and the Food Foundation, was previously successful in persuading the government to provide free school meals during the summer holidays.

Another petition, this time on Change.org, set up by a 16-year-old girl called Christina calling for the government to commit to feeding children on free school meals during every school holiday has reached more than 293,000 signatures.