REQUIRING the Government to make provision so schools can provide breakfast club facilities is the “morally right thing do to”, a North-East Labour MP has said.

Emma Lewell-Buck warned that “hungry children don’t learn no matter how bright and determined they are”.

She told MPs in the Commons: “All of us in this place owe it to every single child who woke up hungry this morning and will go to bed hungry tonight in one of the richest countries in the world to make sure that this Bill becomes a law.”

The MP for South Shields said her School Breakfast Bill had the backing of England footballer Marcus Rashford and singer Cat Stevens, while more than 30,000 people had signed a petition in support of it.

She said: “The physical and mental health consequences for those stuck in this hopeless situation are dire and long-lasting.

“Research conducted prior to the pandemic found rising levels of hospital admissions for children due to malnutrition and a resurgence of Victorian diseases associated with hunger.”

Schools in her constituency she said had warned that without this Bill next year they may have to charge for or cease breakfast provision.

She added: “Not only is the Bill the morally right thing to do, it clearly makes no long-term economic sense to deprive children of this vital meal. Stories of children coming to school with grey pallor, undernourished, rummaging through bins for food, wearing threadbare clothing are commonplace.”

Ms Lewell-Buck warned that coronarvirus had exacerbated poverty levels, adding: “I want to remind them (parents) today and their children that it isn’t their shame, it’s the Government’s because these levels of hunger were and are avoidable.”

She said the School Breakfast Bill was a “simple costed” Bill that would ensure when the Government’s current breakfast club programme expires in 2021, there will be “enshrined in legislation a commitment to a more comprehensive evidence-based programme of school breakfast clubs”.

She said it would ensure that all state-funded primary and secondary schools in England that have at least 50% of pupils in the income deprivation affecting children index, receive funding from the soft drinks levy to deliver breakfasts for every single child in the school, including those children with no recourse to public funds.

The Bill was listed for a second reading on Friday, February 5 next year, but is unlikely to become law due to a lack for parliamentary time.