MPs defend rejecting calls for investigation into need for foodbanks
CORNWALL MPs have defended their decision to reject a motion calling for an investigation into the use of foodbanks.
A proposal by Maria Eagle, MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, called for the Government to publish the results of research into the use of foodbanks commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) which ministers promised to make public in 2013.
Foodbanks offer free food to those in urgent need.
The Labour proposal also called for the coalition Government to bring forward measures to reduce dependency on foodbanks, including a freeze on energy prices, a water affordability scheme, measures to end abuses of zero hours contracts, incentives to companies to pay a living wage and abolition of the under-occupancy penalty – the so-called bedroom tax.
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The motion was debated then rejected by a vote of 294 to 251.
George Eustice, MP, for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, said: "I attended the debate on foodbanks last week and I also visited the Camborne Foodbank in October.
"Defra, the department in which I am a minister, has already commissioned a report to review the available public evidence on the use of foodbanks and this will report in the new year.
"The reasons for the growth in the use of foodbanks are complex."
Over the Christmas period, Camborne's foodbank handed out more than 1,900 free meals in just two hours.
Sarah Newton, MP, for Falmouth and Truro, accused Labour of playing party politics.
She said: "My team have had a weekly presence in the foodbanks in my constituency since April and will continue to do so.
"I fully support the LEP's [Cornwall Local Enterprise Partnership] strategy for a Cornwall living wage and skills training so people can earn more money.
"In addition to distracting from the real work being done to combat food poverty, I could not vote for the motion because it called for Labour's con, an energy bill freeze.
"There is help for people now struggling to pay their bills.
"I recommend anyone who is worried about their bills to call Community Energy Plus on 0800 954 1956 for help and advice."
Liberal Democrat Andrew George, MP, who represents Helston and the Lizard, said he refused to back a motion "to play party politics with a matter which affects so many local people".
He said: "The fact that foodbanks exist and are necessary is an indictment on both the previous Labour Party and the present Tory-led Governments.
"I deplore those who seek to make party political capital on the backs of those who find themselves having to depend upon foodbanks."