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Labour politician gives emotional account about his mum’s ‘panic’ over school holiday meals

Labour's Lord Griffiths - Credit: Parliament Live

A peer told of the “mounting panic” his family had faced ahead of school holidays when he was a child as he shared his experiences of receiving free meals, as he slammed the “Etonians” in parliament who would not recognise that feeling.

Labour’s Lord Griffiths of Burry Port told the House of Lords: “I was in receipt of free meals throughout my entire school career. My mother, a single woman, her only income was the contributions of the National Assistance, we lived in one room.

“I remember very clearly, I can still taste and smell it, the mounting panic ahead of school holidays because the income we had could not stretch to feeding two boys and a mother in that day.

“Marcus Rashford and I have this, and probably only this, in common. We remember not in our heads but in our whole bodies. An old Etonian, of course, can’t be expected to have had the same experience.”

Lord Griffiths said children faced a “postcode lottery” given different councils and communities would act in different ways, to which education minister Baroness Berridge replied: “Many noble lords of all parties and none can recall circumstances in which their own needs – whether that be housing or food – were not met through the circumstances of their family.

“It’s not a postcode lottery – 1.4 million children in England are entitled to free school meals, saving their families over £400 a year, and in addition to that, particularly through the soft drinks levy, the Government has in nearly 2,500 schools been funding breakfast clubs to provide children with healthy food.”