HEREFORD and South Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman has explained why he voted against against England football star Marcus Rashford’s bid to extend free school meals over the holidays.

The Manchester United player had called on politicians to “unite” to protect the most vulnerable children and vowed to continue campaigning.

A motion tabled by Labour last week, which called for the scheme to be extended over school holidays until Easter 2021, was defeated by 261 votes to 322 – majority 61.

Both Herefordshire MPs Jesse Norman and Bill Wiggin voted with the Government to defeat the motion.

“I have nothing but respect for Marcus Rashford, both as a footballer and as a campaigner. But it is really important to look beyond the headlines,” Mr Norman said.


“No child should ever go hungry in this country, and no MP in any political party thinks they should.

“I work with a lot of local organisations, in the city, in Ross and across the county, and I am acutely aware of the extra strains placed on families and family budgets by the pandemic.

“There are parts of Herefordshire which are among the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country, and the rising unemployment rate locally is a deep concern.”

Mr Norman said the Government has put in place a wide range of Covid-19 programmes to support families during this crisis but more may be needed soon.

“No one can say with 100% confidence how the pandemic will continue to affect people’s lives,” he said.

“But our response as a country to COVID-19 needs to be considered through the wider lens of Universal Credit and the work of local authorities and non-governmental organisations.

“These are complex issues. They cannot be resolved in a single three-hour debate in Parliament.

“Finally, I see some effort has been made on social media to link this issue with MPs’ expenses. “Just for the record, I have never claimed any personal expenses as an MP.”