Gavin is not unique in the group of Government Ministers who are asked very specific questions and they choose to ignore the subject. Indeed in the current Government their leader is probably the most significant in the team of people who appear unwilling or incapable of listening to a question and then responding to it. Indeed given this approach it does rather question if questions are of any value in our Government. On Thursday towards the end of the Morning there was a debate in the House of Commons on the theme of A Brighter Future for the Next Generation and after 182 words from Gavin Williamson the first person to stand up and speak was Peter Kyle who is the MP for Hove. His question was very short and it related to a theme that one would hope the Minister would have an understanding on.
Does the Secretary of State agree with Dame Louise Casey, who said today that we cannot be a levelled-up country if we have got food banks?
One can read the full response from Gavin Williamson which comprises a total of 279 words and the first 125 were these below and he clearly said even less related to the question in the other 154 words.
This party is committed to delivering right across the country. This party is committed to making sure that we make a real difference to every child’s life by raising standards in education and making sure that all the way through their lives, people have the opportunity to train and better themselves in order to succeed and deliver for their communities and families. Of course we will always take action to support families. That is why we increased universal credit; that is why we have taken the action we have all the way through this pandemic; and that is why we have invested billions of pounds in the furlough scheme, to make sure that in these difficult and challenging times, people can provide for their family.
I did have a look on the system to see if Gavin Williamson had ever mentioned Foodbanks in his time in Parliament and he has never done so. There was this piece in the Warrington Guardian newspaper almost exactly a year ago on the 6th May 2020 which stated
DISTRESSED families have been forced to turn to Warrington Foodbank to feed their children after technical faults with a free school meal voucher scheme. The Government’s scheme, which is being managed by Edenred, was set up at pace to support desperate families following school closures because of the coronavirus crisis. But it has faced a raft of problems since being introduced. In a letter to education secretary Gavin Williamson, Warrington Borough Council chief executive Steven Broomhead expressed serious concerns.
The text goes on much longer in terms of the comments and concerns from Steven Broomhead and at the end the response is
The Department for Education (DfE) says it continues to work closely with its supplier to resolve technical issues and thanked schools for their patience while the system is upgraded to meet increased demand.
Now of course a response for a newspaper article is capable of being edited very significantly unlike the speeches in Parliament. However in both cases it appears as if Gavin Williamson and his Department are unable to refer to the Foodbank issues. Just to be clear, Peter Kyle has only referred to foobanks twice in Parliament and the previous time was in 2016. However since the Queens speech Jeremy Corbyn has mentioned the subject and so too has Cat Fletcher. My own view is that we will always have Foodbanks in our nation but as the image above shows, the number of the parcels has increased significantly and it needs to be reduced and that will require the Government to focus on the poor people in our nation and their lack of financial support from the state.