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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Tory Peer Causes Anger with Food Bank Comments

Friday, 21 March 2014

Tory peer Lord Tebbit has caused outrage with his comments in the House of Lords that people who visit food banks are at the same time spending their money on ’junk food’. Speaking in House of Lords debate on the alarming growth in food bank use in the UK because of the coalition government’s austerity programme – Lord Tebbit said there was a ‘near infinite demand’ for valuable goods given away free and asked ministers to ‘initiate research into junk food sales in areas where people are relying for basic food on the food banks’.

He made the comments moments after a Tory environment minister, Lord de Mauley, shocked fellow peers by saying food banks are not a ‘scandal’ but a sign of Britain's charity and ministers should not seek to 'interfere' in their use.

Commenting Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson said:

"This shows just how out of touch the Tories are. We live in a country brimming with resources and talent but we are now reducing the most vulnerable people in society to using food banks - who now find that they are then mocked and pilloried like this by a peer of the realm. It is just offensive. Lord Tebbit is one of over 800 unelected, unaccountable peers who can turn up for half an hour’s work and earn £300 a day, yet they can still spout this arrogant nonsense. Lords Tebbit and

De Mauley are not alone though. Lord Freud – the millionaire Tory welfare minister told his colleagues last July that the growth of food banks is not linked to growing poverty and hunger – merely that people ‘wish to get food for free'. We know that the Trussell Trust, the charity which oversees more than 400 Food Banks across the UK, has figures that 614,000 adults and children received help from its food banks in the first nine months of 2013-14, compared with 350,000 for all of 2012-13.

“A Yes vote in September gives the people of Scotland a choice of two futures. Lord Tebbit’s comments go a long way to illustrate what kind of future is on offer from Westminster. Food banks – the Bedroom Tax and Pay Day loans. The evidence that the UK is an unequal society was again highlighted by research from Oxfam at the beginning of the week which revealed that just five families in the UK are worth more than the poorest 20% of the entire UK population, an absolutely indefensible situation. Only with the full powers of independence can we create the fairer, more prosperous and democratic society we all want for Scotland.”

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