Piers Morgan calls Matt Hancock out on voting down free school meals in the summer

Jimmy Nsubuga
·3 min read

Watch: Piers Morgan calls Matt Hancock out on voting down free school meals

The health secretary has refused to say he regrets voting down free school meals in the summer despite now saying he is “glad” children are receiving support.

Matt Hancock was grilled on Good Morning Britain about his previous decision to reject the plan amid anger over paltry food packages sent to families during lockdown.

Images posted online showed the packages containing just a few items, despite being intended to feed children for up to a week.

Hancock told host Piers Morgan: “I'm really glad we're able to send out food for those who receive free school meals when schools are in, and I'm really glad we're able to do that when schools are out."

A mum from Bournemouth shared a picture of the food package her 17-year-old received - which included a third of an onion. (SWNS)
A mum from Bournemouth shared a picture of the food package her 17-year-old received – including a third of an onion. (SWNS)
A bag intended to last 10 days which was issued instead of £30 worth of food vouchers. (SWNS)
A bag intended to last 10 days that was issued instead of £30 worth of food vouchers. (SWNS)

But Morgan quickly reminded him of his decision last year, saying: "If you're that glad, can I ask you a question, why did you vote against it?"

Hancock did not directly answer the question and continued to say he was happy the government was offering school meals.

When pushed again the health secretary stuttered and added: "Well... because... the reason I'm glad now is because we've been able to sort that out and put it in place".

Read more: What you can and can't do under current lockdown rules

Co-host Susanna Reid then interjected: "No thanks to you!"

Morgan added: "Let's be honest you got shamed into it by a young football player with a conscience who managed to prick the conscience of you and the government.”

He asked Hancock again if he regretted his decision, but the Tory MP refused to give a clear answer.

Meanwhile, footballer Marcus Rashford said Boris Johnson has told him the government is reviewing the supply chain for the meals.

The Manchester United star, who has been behind a drive to get free school meals to children who need them, tweeted: “Just had a good conversation with the Prime Minister.

“He has assured me that he is committed to correcting the issue with the food hampers and that a full review of the supply chain is taking place.

“He agrees that images of hampers being shared on Twitter are unacceptable.”

Asked about the images, Hancock told BBC Breakfast: “Well, it’s clearly inadequate, isn’t it? The company’s apologised, and rightly so.

"Frankly, this is one of the good things about social media, this could surface so quickly, and then colleagues in the Department for Education were on it straight away.

“And they spoke to the company immediately and the company have apologised and it got sorted out."

Read more: Teacher spends his own money on 'unacceptable' free school meals

Education food service provider Chartwells has apologised after an image was shared of a parcel estimated to contain just over £5 of food.

A spokesperson for Chartwells said: “We have had time to investigate the picture circulated on Twitter. For clarity this shows five days of free school lunches (not 10 days) and the charge for food, packing and distribution was actually £10.50 and not £30 as suggested.

“However, in our efforts to provide thousands of food parcels a week at extremely short notice we are very sorry the quantity has fallen short in this instance.”

Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown