A BOURNEMOUTH MP has said that looking at free school meals during non-term time did not reflect the "full picture of support offered by Government".

None of Dorset's Conservative MPs voted in support of a non-binding opposition motion to provide free school meals during the school holidays until Easter 2021.

Tobias Ellwood, Bournemouth East, Conor Burns, Bournemouth West, Michael Tomlinson, Mid Dorset and North Poole, Sir Robert Syms, Poole, Richard Drax, South Dorset and Chris Loder, West Dorset, all voted against the motion, which has been championed by Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford.

Sir Christopher Chope, Christchurch, and Simon Hoare, North Dorset, were listed as no vote recorded on the division, according to the UK Parliament website.

The Daily Echo has contacted Dorset MPs asking them for the reasons behind their votes on the motion.

Mr Ellwood said: "Schools are now fully operational and free school meals continue to be offered during to term time. This was an Opposition Day debate and I supported the amendment that included the wider context in which vulnerable families are supported. Labour glossed over the £9bn additional welfare funding which is far larger than the support for holiday time free school meals.

"A further £63m has been given to councils to be used at their discretion to offer further support.

"Looking at free school meals during non-term time is not the full picture of support offered by Government."

Mr Tomlinson told the Daily Echo: "This is Labour playing pathetic party political games during a pandemic, on an opposition day debate that would not change the law in any event.

"Free School Meals provision has been in place for more than a century and will continue to remain in place.

"But these free school meals have only ever been intended to support eligible pupils attending school during term-time.

"Here in Dorset, school leaders have worked incredibly hard during this pandemic and it is not reasonable or sustainable to ask them to provide food or undertake additional action during the school holidays.

"Rather than making cheap political points, and shouting “scum” across the Chamber in the House of Commons, Labour should start working with us to support the most vulnerable families and children."

On Wednesday morning before the vote on the motion had taken place, Poole MP Sir Robert responded to a post on Twitter which said it was "tough argument" to deny extra money on free school meals when chancellor Rishi Sunak is spending a "fortune" on battling Covid and spent £500m on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

Sir Robert's account replied: "No it is not -it is for parents to feed kids if the Government provide meals in school holidays it will cost billions in future."

Mr Hoare confirmed to the Daily Echo that he had actively abstained on the motion.

Responses to the Daily Echo's inquiries from MPs will be added to this article as and when they are provided.