Child Poverty

Part of First Minister's Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 12:00 pm on 29th March 2007.

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Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour 12:00 pm, 29th March 2007

Not only has pensioner poverty been reduced dramatically since 1997, child poverty has been reduced considerably—both absolute poverty as measured by a straight cash comparison with 1997 and relative poverty as measured by comparison with the rest of the population.

I believe that there are further measures that we can take. I outlined one recently: prioritising the provision of free school meals to the youngsters who need it most—who had their free school meals taken away by the Tories. That is in direct contradiction to the Scottish National Party policy, which is to provide free school meals to those who can afford it rather than those who cannot.

Alex Neil made a telling point in his question. His whole strategy for the economy would be based around the volatile oil price. The reality is that the parties who would gamble the future of the children in Scotland who are living in poverty on a volatile oil price that has dropped by $20 a barrel since last summer would not be able to tackle poverty in Scotland. It is those of us who want a strong and stable economy who will tackle poverty, and we will continue to do so.