One of the tragedies inherent in todays report on how dependent the UK has become on charity run foodbanks and other food distribution schemes such as FareShare (I have written extensively about the FareShare scheme I founded in Brighton & Hove) is that it took a charity to commission the report, not the Government itself. Many of us have been calling for the Government to investigate the explosion of foodbanks and the reasons why so many people have been forced into the indignity of queuing for food, but despite the ongoing growth in these schemes our elected representatives have continued to speak out from the vantage points of extreme ignorance and prejudice. In words that echoed a previous comment by Lord Freud the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Welfare Reform, his colleague the Minister of State for Business and Enterprise, Matthew Hancock when asked to comment about the findings from a leaked copy of todays report and the growth of foodbanks said “one of the reasons is because more people know about them”. A further insult to all of us is that apparently no one from DWP including Lord Freud could even be bothered to turn up for the launch of todays report.
On the same day that the report into foodbank use was published our newspapers have been reflecting on at least two other aspects of our place of Government. We have had the news that the House of Lords has fallen out with the Commons over where to obtain the 1000’s of Bottles of Champagne that their Lordships consume each year. There has also been the reports from the Work and Pensions Committee of Nigel Mills MP spending hours playing a computer game on his IPad. That is only part of the problem as the House of Commons is now trying to prosecute the person who ‘outed’ Mr Mills who at least has had the good grace to apologise for his lapse of judgement. It seems that other MPs are actually trying to defend his actions on the grounds that many of the Parliamentary Committee meetings are really rather boring and at least Mr Mills didn’t fall asleep. You really couldn’t make all of this up!