A BILL presented by Birkenhead MP Frank Field aiming to abolish hunger among children during school term time gained support in the House of Commons yesterday.

The bill successfully passed its first reading winning the backing of 125 MPs from across the House

it requires education secretary Nicky Morgan to place a duty on each local authority to automatically identify and register all eligible children for free school meals.

Mr Field has spearheaded the drive against hunger, launching a plan last December which demanded a concerted effort by Government, voluntary groups and the private sector to work together to combat the problem in the UK.

The Department of Education estimates 160,000 poor children in England were entitled to free food but not yet registered.

Mr Field said: “The policy of automatic registration for free school meals has delivered a win-win situation in those areas of the country that have been bold enough to embrace it.

“By guaranteeing many more of our poorest children a hot meal every lunchtime during term time, the policy ensures substantial numbers of children need no longer struggle to concentrate on an empty stomach."

He added: “A second most welcome success comes in the additional pupil premium funding to which their schools are likely to become entitled.

“And yet a large number of local authorities – we don’t know how many – won’t take up the policy without the nudge from Whitehall.

“My bill would make it their duty to take it up and, in doing so, move us one step close to abolishing child hunger in this country by 2020.”

The bill is scheduled for its second reading on January 22.