South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has issued a challenge to local Tory MPs to back plans for free school meals, when the issue returns to the House of Commons.

Conservative MPs David Mundell, Alister Jack and John Lamont last week voted against funding free school meals for children at risk of going hungry in England over the half-term holidays.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already introduced food voucher schemes and the UK Government extended free school meals to eligible children during the Easter holidays earlier this year and, after a high-profile campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford, did the same for the summer holiday. But it has refused to do so again during the October and Christmas breaks. Labour has now said it intends to bring the issue back to the House of Commons before the Christmas holidays- and Colin Smyth has challenged South Scotland MPs David Mundell, Alister Jack and John Lamont to back the vote.

Colin Smyth said: “The behaviour of local Tory MPs is completely shameful. Voting against providing funding for free school meals for English children at risk of going hungry during the school holidays was simply shocking.

“I am challenging David Mundell, Alister Jack and John Lamont to rethink their opposition because many people in their constituencies will be horrified that their elected MPs could vote against providing free food for vulnerable children no matter where they live in the country.

“We are currently living through unprecedented times and many families across the UK have been pushed further into poverty by this pandemic, which makes it even more important that children who need free school meals during term time, can access food during the holidays.

“We are living in 2020, not 1820 and it is time our MPs stood up for what is right.”

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