SIR: MP Steve Brine, says in his Letter from Westminster (October 22) that "the NHS, both locally and nationally, remains [his] priority”. How then did he vote against the Labour motion in parliament last week, to fund free school meals over the holidays until Easter 2021 for disadvantaged children? Has he not realised, in his time as an MP, as a health minister or even just as a human being, that poverty results in ill-health, which in turn results in pressure on the NHS?

The Cameron government seemed to be taken by surprise that depression increased as a result of austerity. A depressed parent will have trouble being a good parent. The depression could arise because of unemployment, insecure employment, fear of eviction, or any of the myriad other problems produced by simply not having enough money. Now, just as austerity was supposed to be lifted, Covid-19 has turned the world upside down. People face huge uncertainty and the economy is plunging (and that’s before Brexit is actually finalised).

Can Steve Brine really not imagine what it must be like to be unable to give your child sufficient good food? When the only reliable meal of the day is the one provided (despite years of attrition in the school meals service) at school? When you know your child cannot grow healthily because you can’t feed them adequately?

The report in Hansard of the parliamentary debate lists no contribution from Mr Brine, so we have no insight into how he justifies his vote. Perhaps he feels it’s not a Winchester problem, although he’s not averse to being photographed at food banks. He even opened the Winchester’s second one. A website called suggests people “politely help local and national politicians understand that food banks shouldn’t exist in our country.” His vote against the bill triggered by Marcus Rashford, who knows about being hungry as a child, suggests the message hasn’t got through.

For the record, MP Flick Drummond voted the same way, and equally failed to explain why. Poor families will suffer, and the NHS will bear the eventual cost.

Judith Martin,

Romsey Road