Matt Hancock in bust-up with Piers Morgan for refusing 7 TIMES to say he regrets vote against lockdown free
PIERS Morgan has today blasted the food parcels fiasco as a "complete disgrace" - as a squirming Matt Hancock refused SEVEN TIMES to say he regrets voting against free school meals.
The Health Secretary appeared on Good Morning Britain after mums and dads revealed meagre meal replacements for their hungry children during lockdown.
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Frantic parents shared pictures of potatoes and cans of beans, a loaf of bread and a block of cheese or boxes of cold chips after expecting enough food for a week's worth of lunches.
Many have also been sent five bottles of water - despite being able to give their children water from the tap.
Some say they hadn't received anything yet after weeks of waiting.
And this morning, Mr Hancock repeatedly refused to comment on whether he regrets not backing Marcus Rashford's initiative.
TV firebrand Piers asked the minister how much he spends on food for his three children a week - leading Mr Hancock to reply that he "doesn't have much time to cook at the moment".
Piers called the packages, which are put together and distributed by food service company Chartwells, "a complete disgrace".
Mr Hancock replied: "Yeah, absolutely - but the company has apologised.
"I'm glad this has surfaced on social media."
Piers and co-host Susanna Reid then asked Mr Hancock if he regretted voting against the campaign.
But the politician refused to answer the question a total of seven times - instead repeating that he was "really glad" the initiative had been put into place.
Piers said MPs had been "shamed into it by a young football player with a conscience", and asked again: "You wouldn't have done it without Rashford - do you regret voting against it?"
Mr Hancock parroted his answer - finally admitting he's "really glad it's happening now" and "really glad this situation has been resolved".
Piers: Why did you vote against it?
Hancock: Well, I'm really glad we were able to put it into place.
Piers: Yeah but, if you're that glad you were able to put it into place, again, why did you as Health Secretary vote against it?
Hancock: Well, because the reason that I'm glad now is because we've been able to sort that out now and put that into place so that's good
Susanna: No thanks to you.
Piers: Let's be honest, the reason you're glad now is you got shamed by a young football player with a conscience who managed to prick the conscience of you and the Government. Do you regret now - given how glad you are it's happening - do you regret voting against it?
Hancock: Well, of course I'm pleased we're making that sure during this lockdown -
Piers: That wasn't the question - I asked if you regret it. Hang on, this is a very important question because you wouldn't have done it without Rashford campaigning. My question for you is, given how glad you now are it's happening, do you regret voting against it? It's a yes or no.
Hancock: Well, as I say, I'm very glad it's happening now and -
Piers: But do you regret it? Do you regret voting against it?
Hancock: I'll put it this way, in the first lockdown we took this action and now as you say we're in the second national lockdown -
Piers: Health Secretary, you only have to say yes or no whether you regret it - you either regret it or you don't.
Hancock: Well, I'm really glad the situation has been resolved.
Piers: So you regret voting against it?
Hancock: I'm really glad it's been resolved and we've sorted it out and I'm going to use my own words to describe my own feelings on this one.
Piers: So you won't answer the question.
Hancock: I'm answering the question, and I'm really glad that we've sorted it out.
"The good thing is, that's what we're delivering and we're sorting the problem and the minister in the Department for Education has spotted it and acted on it," he said.
In an earlier interview on BBC Breakfast, he told presenters: "It's clearly inadequate isn't it? The company's apologised, and rightly so.
"Frankly, this is one of the good things about social media, this could surface so quickly, and then colleagues in the Department for Education were on it straight away."
Rashford, who has long campaigned to keep kids fed throughout the pandemic through free school meals, yesterday shared photos of the paltry packages.
He said: "One thing that is clear is that there was very little communication with the suppliers that a national lockdown was coming.
"We MUST do better. Children shouldn’t be going hungry on the basis that we aren’t communicating or being transparent with plans. That is unacceptable."
During the summer, the football ace forced a Government U-turn over feeding hungry kids during the holidays.
In October, MPs rejected a Labour motion to extend the free school meals until Easter 2021 - but were later forced into a second turn-around over the issue.
Those eligible for free school meals are entitled to £30 food vouchers, though some parents have stated they have received food bundles instead that cost a fraction of the price.
The Manchester United striker shared an image one mum posted of a parcel intended to feed her kids for ten days.
She claimed instead of £30 worth of food, she only got a bundle worth £5.22 to last for ten days.
Following the furore, the Prime Minister had a call with Rashford to confirm an investigation will be launched.
Meanwhile, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced that parents will be able to use the Free Schools Meals voucher scheme again from Monday and shop for their kids' lunches themselves.
Parents will be able to get £15-worth of vouchers to use at supermarkets or continue to use the food parcels system that Boris has vowed to improve.
Chartwell insisted: "We have had time to investigate the picture circulated on Twitter.
"For clarity this shows five days of free school lunches (not ten days) and the charge for food, packing and distribution was actually £10.50 and not £30 as suggested.
"However, in our efforts to provide thousands of food parcels a week at extremely short notice we are very sorry the quantity has fallen short in this instance.
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"Our ten-day hampers typically include a wide variety of nutritious food items to support the provision of lunches for children."
Besides providing refunds, the food supplier said it would contact "every school" to pin down where any shortages may have occurred and "we will apologise to anyone affected".
It will also make sure that its 10-day food hampers reflect the government's additional £3.50 funding allocation as of next Monday and ensure "that every penny goes into the provision of the food".