The First Minister has been accused of taking the easy way out after he refused to look into the merits of introducing free school meals for all infant children in Wales.
During First Minister's Questions this afternoon, Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, called on the Welsh Labour Government to consider introducing free school meals for all year one and year two primary pupils as has been announced in England by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. The First Minister, however, refused to do so, instead indicating that free school breakfasts was enough. However, recent figures have shown that take-up of free school breakfasts was only 22%.
Kirsty Williams AM said:
"We are proud that Liberal Democrats are introducing free school meals in England, but what about Welsh families and pupils? The Welsh Labour Government can't hide from this.
"A family on average spends around £400 on their children's lunch. This policy would go a long way in helping them keep some of their money in these tough economic times. It will also help ensure our children have a healthy and balanced diet, enabling them to perform better in their education.
"The First Minister seems to think that providing free school breakfasts for a minority of children in Wales enough. He is wrong. Whilst the Welsh Liberal Democrats have always supported free breakfasts, they are simply not comparable to free school lunches. The most recent figures show that take up of free school breakfasts is just 22%. The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe that all children should receive a free hot lunch at school. Once again, this Welsh Labour Government is taking the easy way out and showing a lack of ambition for Wales.
"The Welsh Liberal Democrats will continue to put pressure on the Welsh Labour Government to introduce free school meals in Wales. It is a matter of fairness."