Fiona O’Donnell, MP for East Lothian, has urged David Cameron to take action to tackle rising food prices when she opened this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons (4 July 2012).
Ms O’Donnell, who has been campaigning for the creation of a food bank in her constituency to help families facing food poverty, questioned the Prime Minister over what action his Government has taken to address food inflation.
Figures provided by the Trussell Trust charity show that over 12,000 men, women and children in East Lothian currently live below the poverty line, with high unemployment and changes to the welfare system threatening to exacerbate this.
Speaking after Prime Minister’s Questions, Ms O’Donnell said:
“With food prices rising 4.6% in the last year and other pressures on household budgets, across the country and in East Lothian there are people struggling to feed themselves and their families. Food poverty is a growing issue in the UK and we need urgent action from the Government.
I was extremely disappointed with the Prime Minister’s answer. He didn’t appear to grasp the problem with food inflation – prices are rising but many people’s wages have been frozen. That said, even David Cameron’s own backbenchers concede that he is out of touch with the concerns of ordinary people.
I am currently working with a number of individuals, community groups and churches from across East Lothian to develop the county’s first food bank. People need help now and I firmly believe that this project could help alleviate the situation locally.”
Following a well-attended public meeting in Haddington’s Town House which indicated strong public support for the food bank, Ms O’Donnell is working with representatives from community organisations and local churches to establish an East Lothian Food Bank charity which will administer the project and its funds. Lothian Presbytery has recently given its backing to the project, as have a number of individual churches.
Notes to Editor
- Statistics have been provided by the Trussell Trust, a charitable organisation working with churches and local communities to combat poverty and exclusion in the UK and Bulgaria.
- Extract from Hansard (Wednesday 4th July 2012):
Q1.  Fiona O’Donnell (East Lothian) (Lab): If he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 4 July.
The Prime Minister (Mr David Cameron): I am sure that the whole House will wish to join me in paying tribute to the three British servicemen who were killed in Afghanistan in the appalling incident on Sunday, Guardsman Apete Tuisovurua and Guardsman Craig Roderick of 1st Battalion Welsh Guards and Warrant Officer Class 2 Leonard Thomas of the Royal Corps of Signals. We send our heartfelt condolences to the families of the servicemen who were killed in that tragic incident. They will never be forgotten by our nation.
This morning, I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall have further such meetings later today.
Fiona O’Donnell: I am sure that the whole House will want to associate itself with the Prime Minister’s remarks and to send our deepest condolences to the families of the crew from RAF Lossiemouth who were lost earlier this week.
Food prices rose by 4.6% between March last year and this year. I understand why, so will the Prime Minister spare me the lecture and tell the House what he is doing about food inflation?
4 July 2012 : Column 909
The Prime Minister: First, I join the hon. Lady in what she said about the Tornado aircraft accident at RAF Lossiemouth. She is right that our thoughts should be with the friends, families and colleagues of those involved. The circumstances remain uncertain, but it was clearly a serious incident. The investigation is ongoing and more details will be released by the RAF in due course. It is a reminder of the risks that our service personnel take, not only when they are on active service, but when they are undergoing vital training for that service.
On food inflation, I would first make the point that inflation is now falling in our country, which is extremely good news. It is vital that the food prices in our shops are not too hard on people’s budgets, but the way to keep inflation down is to have a responsible monetary policy, which is what we have in our country.
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