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Food Banks

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 9th January 2013.

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Photo of Brian H Donohoe Brian H Donohoe Labour, Central Ayrshire 11:30 am, 9th January 2013

How many people in Scotland have used food banks in the last 12 months.

Photo of Lindsay Roy Lindsay Roy Labour, Glenrothes

How many people in Scotland have used food banks in the last six months.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

Jobcentre Plus operates a food bank referral service. However, the Government do not hold information on the number of people seeking assistance from food banks.

Photo of Brian H Donohoe Brian H Donohoe Labour, Central Ayrshire

We are in 2013 and not 1813, are we not? The need for food banks this year in Scotland is an abominable reflection on society. There is even a food bank in Prestwick, which is one of the most salubrious parts of my constituency. According to the Trussell Trust, 15% of the people who use that food bank are in employment. What an indictment that is of the Government.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

Although I share the hon. Gentleman’s concern about the use of food banks and the fact that there are vulnerable people in crisis situations, I do not accept the pretence that food banks have come into existence since this Government came to power. That is simply not true. There were food banks under Labour; it is simply that they were not advertised in jobcentres.

Photo of Lindsay Roy Lindsay Roy Labour, Glenrothes

What message does the Minister have for the increasing number of people in my constituency who are being forced to go to food banks to feed their families? What will he do to alleviate that situation?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

I acknowledge the hon. Gentleman’s concern because he instigated a useful Westminster Hall debate on this matter. The Government will continue to do all that we can to help and support the vulnerable in his constituency and elsewhere.

Photo of Gordon Banks Gordon Banks Labour, Ochil and South Perthshire

Two years ago, the Secretary of State said about the Government’s plans that

“the horrible truth is that across the country everyone is going to have to make a contribution”.

The horrible truth of life in Scotland under his Government, however, is that a food bank in my constituency has experienced a father walking a 15-mile round trip for a bag of food to feed his family. Is that an appropriate contribution while the Government give a £2,000 a week tax cut to millionaires?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

I have already indicated that the Government are always concerned about those who need to use food banks in any circumstances, but I will not take any lectures from the hon. Gentleman and the Labour party on millionaires when they want to give them child benefit.