Why I voted against free school meals for children over the holidays - Leeds Morley MP Andrea Jenkyns

Morley and Outwood MP Andrea Jenkyns has revealed why she voted against free school meals for children over the school holidays.
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The government took a vote on a motion which, if approved, would have seen free school meals for kids extended through the holidays.

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The vote in the House of Commons followed a campaign by England and Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford.

Andrea Jenkyns MP.Andrea Jenkyns MP.
Andrea Jenkyns MP.
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A motion put forward by the Labour Party which called for free school meals to be extended over school holidays until Easter 2021 was defeated by 261 votes to 322 – majority 61 - in the Commons on Wednesday, October 21.

She has not responded to the Yorkshire Evening Post's requests for comment, but she did appear on the BBC's regional politics programme, Politics North, on Sunday.

Presenter Tim Iredale held up the YEP's front page from Friday, which asked the question: "Just how you could starve our city's children?"

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Ms Jenkyn's, MP for the area since 2015, responded: "Let's put this into context first. This was an Opposition Day debate - the Labour opposition never support anything that we put forward, including budgets, which actually put more money into the welfare system. And Conservatives, or whoever's in government, never support Opposition Day - non-binding - motions, it's a non-binding motion, by the way."

Tim Iredale cut in, asking the MP: "The parliamentary language is fair enough - this is about children going hungry in the school holidays. We had a government which subsidised Michelin star restaurants - Eat Out to Help Out - why won't you subsidise children's meals?"

Ms Jenkyns replied: "We are subsidising - £9.3bn has been put into the welfare system and £63m has been given to local councils to help families in financial difficulty. There's been £16m into food charities, even the CEO of Shelter has praised our support welfare package during Covid times - so that's a lot of rubbish really.

"We have one of the best support packages in Europe and this is an Opposition Day, non-binding vote."

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Ms Jenkyn's then sought to ask the show's other guest, Labour MP for Halifax Holly Lynch, about the Labour response to the vote.

Ms Lynch said there were still three million children across the country who have been excluded from financial support.

Ms Jenkyn's replied: "During the pandemic we have invested over £1,000 per family into the welfare system and billions of pounds worth of support packages a day, that is complete fabrication Holly - you're playing politics with people's lives and creating fear, which the Labour Party are fantastic at creating fear. Let's look at what we've done and put into our system during this time."


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Laura Collins