THE Tory MP for some of our local villages has explained why he voted against free school meals for the poor children during half term.

Huw Merriman represents Bexhill and Battle, which includes such places as Westham and Pevensey.

This is what he said: “This Opposition Day Motion was a cheap attempt by the Labour party to portray the Conservative government as depriving children of food and it was unjust and unqualified.

“This Government has actually extended free school meal eligibility to a further 50,000 children and expanded programmes like breakfast clubs.

“The fact is that free school meals have never been provided during the school holidays under any government prior to Easter 2020.

“Due to schools being closed during lockdown just before Easter, we transferred the concept of free school meals to the home, meeting the costs of a national voucher scheme for those eligible for free school meals, and kept this running over the Easter and summer holidays given schools were closed up to that time for most pupils.

“Schools are now reopen so we return back to the system which has always been in place under successive governments of all political parties: free school meals apply during term-time only.

“For those families who are in need of further support there is Child Benefit and Universal Credit. We’ve added £9bn to the welfare system to help this year.

“For those most in need, Universal Credit has been increased even further to help those who need support for the challenges of 2020.

“The aim is that we pay the money to families and they then determine how best to spend it for their household.”