During the Child Poverty in Scotland debate in Westminster Hall on 30th October, I intervened seven times during the one and a half hour debate allocation time.
Although I wasn’t a formal speaker in the debate, I felt it important to participate given that I was on the committee for the Children’s Future Food Inquiry earlier this year and had listened to the harrowing stories being told by children who had come into Parliament to give evidence. During several occasions during their evidence, I was close to tears and had to put my glasses on to hide the fact I was becoming so emotional.
One of the most shocking statistics that I have heard in my time as an MP is that 1,400 children a year die before they reach the age of 15 as a direct result of poverty.
Other statistics I highlighted during the debate include – one in four children in Scotland live in poverty, which is shocking and yet is actually the lowest figure of all four UK nations. And, the significant rise in the use of food banks over the past few years, which can be linked back to the austerity policies coming out of Westminster since 2012.
Children struggle to concentrate in school with hungry, rumbling tummies, and when they are dehydrated, and the inquiry hears some of the tactics children use to hide the pains and to hide the noises they were experiencing as result of hunger. It was so shocking, especially when we were told that in some schools children are expected to pay £1 for a bottle of water as no drinking water was available to them.
I also raised the fact that part of the problem is that what used to be called social security is now called welfare, where in the past no matter what could have happened, you would somehow be safe, but that security has now been removed.
Six of my interventions are below, but if you would like to see the full debate go to www.parliamentlive.tv where the debate took place on 24/10 at 2.30pm in Westminster Hall.