KEIGHLEY MP Robbie Moore has come under fire after voting against extending free school meals to cover holidays.

He was among Tory MPs who defeated a Labour motion in the Commons, by a majority of 61.

The vote has sparked widespread anger – and a number of letters from readers.

David Loud, of Silsden, accused Mr Moore of "sinking to a new low".

"His decision to vote against providing the most deprived children in our country the opportunity of a meal in the school holidays – during these difficult times – is nothing short of deplorable," he said.

"It clearly shows that he cares more for his Government than he does for his constituents, especially those living on the edge, who are having to make extremely difficult choices every day just to survive. Shame on him."

Gary Smith, of Riddlesden, said he had read about the vote "with dismay".

"One would think that as MP for Keighley and Ilkley he would have an understanding of his constituency and recognise the shameful levels of poverty that exist," he said.

"He is either oblivious to this or worse still indifferent to the needs of our most deprived children."

John Roberts, from Oakworth, says: "(Boris) Johnson spoke a lot about levelling up. What a total hypocrite.

"I would love to hear our MP justify his decision to vote."

And Antony Silson, of Keighley, accuses Mr Moore of voting to "further punish" children pushed into poverty by his own party's policies.

But Mr Moore, invited by the Keighley News to respond to the criticisms, defended the vote.

He said: “The Government doesn’t usually pay for free school meals out of term time, however we are in difficult times at the moment which is why the Government has taken extra measures to support the most vulnerable families.

“Since the start of this pandemic, the Government has added over £9 billion to the welfare system. The benefits of this have included:

* an increase in Universal Credit by £1,000/year

* the creation of a £63m fund for councils to use for local welfare assistance

* the award of £16m to food charities

* the commitment of £53 billion to the furlough scheme which has protected 12 million jobs.

“This is all money that is going to families which are in need. In addition they have extended free school meal eligibility to a further 50,000 children and expanded programmes like breakfast clubs.

“The Conservatives extended free school meals over the summer holidays due to the fact children had not been in school since March and families had been meeting the extra costs of this.

“Now, the situation is different. We see children back in the classroom and benefitting from free school meals during term time as normal.

“Furthermore, I am pleased the Government has just last week given a further £18 million to Bradford Council that can be used to support the most vulnerable during these challenging times – such as free school meals during holiday periods – and I am very pleased to see they are using this Government money to help with this.”

* The letters will appear in full in this week's Keighley News