Part of First Minister's Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 12:00 pm on 22nd March 2007.

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Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour 12:00 pm, 22nd March 2007

I am aware of the report and of the important issues it raises. One of the most important ways for us to tackle the issue is to work in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions, the Treasury and the other UK Government departments on our responsibilities for education, skills, child care, the regeneration of our communities, the creation of employment and in areas such as the provision of school meals.

I hope that coalition partners will allow me to say that I believe that we should target an extension of free school meals on those families who had free school meals taken away from them by the Conservative Government in the late 1980s, when it hypocritically and deceitfully changed the benefits system and, by a sleight of hand, reduced the opportunity for a free school meal for a range of people who were in work but still in poverty. It is important that we target an extension of free school meals on those families, rather than adopt the universal approach that would allow free school meals for those who can afford them.