This is what two of the South Yorkshire's MPs who voted against Labour's free school meals motion had to say about it
South Yorkshire Conservative MPs have explained why they voted against Labour's motion to provide disadvantaged children with free school meals during the holidays.
Labour put forward a motion in the House of Commons on Wednesday night calling for 1.4m disadvantaged children in England to be given £15-a-week food vouchers during holidays until Easter 2021.
The motion was voted down by Conservative MPs, including Miriam Cates. Her Penistone and Stocksbridge constituency is ranked 340 most deprived out of 533 constituencies in England.
Ms Cates said no one was denying poverty existed and the Government was supporting families through Universal Credit.
She said: "This was supposedly a debate about free school meals, but even if the motion had passed, the result would not be more free school meals.
"During holidays, schools are closed and don’t provide physical meals - free or not - to any child. What was really being called for was not free school meals, but rather the continuation of a scheme that would give a £15 supermarket voucher to the parent of each child who is eligible.
"That is not the same as providing a daily nutritious meal to a child in the school environment, to help them get the most out of their education.
"I think it’s important to recognise the difference between free school meals and a supermarket voucher."
Ms Cates said the initial voucher scheme was set up in March as a "practical response" to schools needing to close during lockdown.
She added: "Whilst some schools continued to deliver physical meals to children studying at home, for many this wasn’t possible, and the voucher scheme addressed this. But no one suggested at the time that this was anything other than a temporary solution.
"Nobody would seek to deny that child poverty exists, or that we must be doing whatever we can to bring people out of it. But that is not achieved by occasionally distributing supermarket vouchers.
But Olivia Blake, Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam, said it would have been a simple and inexpensive way to stop millions of children going hungry.
"We are in unprecendented times and we are seeing families really struggling across the region. This would be a simple thing the government could do to help families and make children's holidays a bit easier.
"We know parents will be skipping meals to feed their children plus holiday hunger clubs and other activities are not going ahead as normal so it will be even harder.
"This would be an inexpensive way to make such a difference."
Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher, who represents the Conservatives and was elected in 2019, also voted against the motion and said the Government had already provided an ‘extra £9.3 billion’ to those most in need.
Mr Fletcher said: “Universal Credit has also helped 5.6 million people during this crisis.
"It ensures that families can get by without having to rely on subsidised meals over the Christmas holidays."
The vote had the support of Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford after a campaign led by the striker put pressure on the Government in their previous U-turn earlier in the year.
Figures show that Doncaster has 9,618 children eligible for free school meals. Sheffield has 20,435, Barnsley 7,783 and Rotherham 8,727.