I do not dismiss the importance of ensuring that no child goes hungry. The vote last night was after a debate about how this can be achieved rather than whether it should be done at all.
Opening schools to feed children year round is not a sensible option and it is right that parents instead receive direct financial help through tax credits or universal credit to feed their children at home during the holidays.
It is important to remember that free school meals are not a general welfare measure. They are aimed at providing healthy meals for children at school to ensure disadvantaged students can learn to the best of their ability. Provision for free schools meals is ordinarily term time only and there has never been a requirement for schools to continue this provision during school holidays. While schools were restricted from opening to all pupils, additional support was given to families in recognition of the unprecedented levels of disruption and uncertainty for schools during this time but schools are now open once again.
The Government has already increased universal credit by £20 a week, funded councils to provide emergency food assistance to families, and allocated £63 million to councils for families in hardship. The Treasury has also supported families through this difficult period with almost £53 billion worth of income protection schemes, and £9.3 billion of additional welfare payments.