A MAJOR British union has called for free school meals for all nursery and primary school children.

The GMB put forward a motion at the Labour Party conference in Brighton urging the government to build on pilot schemes operating in Scotland, Durham and Newham.

It claims the move would ensure children eat healthy food and would help them to learn better. It would also help families with low incomes and provide jobs.

Currently 14 per cent of children in Bournemouth receive free school meals, as do 10 per cent in Poole and almost seven per cent in the Dorset County Council area, the lowest percentage in the south west. The average in England is 16 per cent.

“The pilot schemes have been very popular with parents” said Richard Ascough, regional secretary of the GMB.

“A family with two children could be supported to the tune of £25 per week, which is the current cost of school dinners. The cost could be funded by closing down tax havens and clamping down on tax evasion.”

Mr Ascough said healthy meals would help fight obesity, pupils would learn better in the afternoon after a nutritious, hot lunch and free dinners for all would remove the stigma currently faced by poor children.