Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed a vote in the Education Committee which allow free school meals to be extended to a further 5, 616 P1-3 pupils throughout the region by 2010.
The vote was 3-2 in favour of providing free school meals to primary 1 to 3 pupils. The SNP members voted in favour, Labour abstained with the Lib Dems and Conservatives forming an alliance against the proposal.
Mr Gibson said....
"I am proud that the SNP members of the education committee have voted through this measure which will tackle poverty head on. i would expect nothing more from the Conservatives however i though that the Lib Dem's had a social conscious. it seem that by siding with the Tories in this vote that they have lost it.
"The fact that Labour can't even bring themselves to support the principle (even though it is supported by trade unions, charities and teachers) is symptomatic of their current political malaise and bitterness towards the SNP."
"The aim of the Lib Dems/Tory alliance was to try and take food out of the mouths of around 118,000 children throughout Scotland. It is quite astonishing. i am genuinely shocked to see the Lib Dems lurch to that point of the political spectrum."
"The Highland Council has received an extra 5.8% in their budget from the Scottish Budget so therefore the Lib Dem administration in Highland Council should be able to fund this fair policy which will see 7,569 (see 2) pupils benefit."
1. The legislation passed by 3 for (SNP), 2 against (Con / LD) and 3 abstentions (Lab)
2. based on 2006/7 figs Highland Council has 1,953 children receiving free school meals if legislation is voted through that will go up to 7,569 an increase of 5,616
For Scotland the figures are an increase of 117,521 to 161,899
3. The text of the letter sent to all Committee members from the following organisations is below; Save the Children, Child Poverty Action Group, Unison, The Poverty Alliance, One Parent Families Scotland, Scottish Women's Committee, Association of Head Teachers and Deputes in Scotland, the Church and Society Council and the Scottish Local Government Forum against Poverty
Draft Provision of School Lunches (Disapplication of the Requirement to Charge) (Scotland) Order 2008 :
We are writing to urge you as a member of the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee to recommend that the draft Provision of School Lunches (Disapplication of the Requirement to Charge) (Scotland) Order 2008 be approved as moved in Committee this coming Wednesday 19th November.
Approving the Order is essential to allow local authorities to roll out provision of free school meals to all P1 to P3 pupils in their areas, a provision that we believe will make an important contribution to children's education, health and well being, as well as providing much needed relief to hard pressed family budgets.
Given the consensus that exists on the importance of nutrition to children's development we believe it would be a tragedy if a scheme which has boosted healthy school meal uptake so significantly was prevented from being rolled out by local authorities.
We would therefore be grateful for your reassurance that you will work to ensure that the Committee recommends the approval of the Order.