MINISTERS are refusing to admit the scale of hunger in Britain because they would then have to do something about it, Labour charged yesterday.
MP Emma Lewell-Buck slammed the government’s “punitive welfare policies” and failure to act on hunger for pushing 8.4 million people into food poverty during Commons questions.
Tory MP Peter Hollobone used the debate to slate the poor for “spending too much on food that isn’t good for them.”
The ex-public school boy said: “During the war, the wartime generation knew how to manage on a very tight budget and nutrition actually improved for most households, including the very poorest.
“Could we learn some lessons from the wartime generation on how best to feed our people?”
Mr Hollobone — who has previously been tipped to defect to Ukip — was accused of shifting blame for food poverty away from the government.
In 2010 he caused uproar when he claimed in Parliament that “wearing a burqa is like putting a paper bag over your head” and last year he rambled on for an hour and 22 minutes to talk out a Bill aiming to halt privatisation of the NHS.
Environment Minister George Eustice lept on the question to draw attention to the leaflets the government puts out on healthy eating. But Ms Lewell-Buck slammed ministers for not measuring food insecurity.
The South Shields MP said: “We have an estimated 8.4 million people in Britain living in food-insecure households.
“There have been repeated calls from myself, from the cross-party [all-party parliamentary group] on hunger, from the [environment, food and rural affairs] select committee, the Food Foundation, Sustain and Oxfam for the government to adopt a household food-insecurity measurement.
“Why won’t the government just admit the fact is the resistance to introducing this measurement is because, once you’ve admitted the scale of hunger, then the government will have to do something about it, and admit it’s largely caused by their own punitive welfare reform policies?”
Mr Eustice claimed that there is already an established measure to assess how much the lowest-income households spend on food.