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Economic changes 'a disaster for the poor' says Birkenhead MP
THE FALLOUT from an angry House of Commons debate about food banks continued today with Birkenhead's MP claiming the Government’s economic changes are "a disaster for the poor."
Frank Field has written to the Prime Minister urging him to reconsider his decision not to hold a public inquiry into the rising demand for food banks.
The rowdy debate on Wednesday saw Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith refuse to answer questions and leave early.
Mr Field, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on hunger and food poverty, told the House of Commons: “Something very important is going on in our economy which is disadvantaging the poor the most.”
He pointed out expectations of countries becoming richer and households being able to spend more of their money on non-essential items had been reversed in recent years, with households having to spend an increasingly large amount of their income on food.
“With a greater proportion of income now having to be spent on fuel and rent, we can see that that is difficult for many people - but it is a disaster for the poor,” he said.
Labour had called the debate after nearly 150,000 people signed a petition backed by The Mirror, the Unite union and The Trussell Trust - the nation's largest provider of food banks - calling for an inquiry into the growing dependence on food aid.
Mr Duncan Smith did not answer questions directly, leaving it instead to his deputy, Wirral West MP Esther McVey.
She said it was a positive thing that more people were turning to food banks and that Germany and Canada had also seen a rise in their use.
Ms McVey, Minister for Employment, said: “It is positive that people are reaching out to support other people - from church groups to community groups, to local supermarkets and other groups.”
She added: “In the UK it is right that more people are...going to food banks because, as times are tough, we are all having to pay back this £1.5 trillion debt personally, which spiralled under Labour.
“We are all trying to live within our means, change the gear and make sure that we pay back all our debt which happened under them.”
Labour's Sir Gerald Kaufman described Ms McVey's speech as the “nastiest I have heard in 43 years as an MP.”
Mr Duncan Smith and the remaining Government Ministers from his department left the debate after an hour, well before its conclusion.
Labour's motion calling on the Government to reduce dependency on food banks eventually was defeated by 294 votes to 251, a majority of 43.
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