SOUTH Somerset's MP has slammed 'misinformation' after he voted against a motion to extend free school meals for vulnerable families.

Six Somerset MPs voted down the plans, including Yeovil's Marcus Fysh.

But the MP has said that claims the Government have 'not supported those children in most need' are false.

A motion to extend the service, championed by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford, was defeated in the Commons on Wednesday by 322 votes to 261 - a majority of 61.

Rebecca Pow (Taunton Deane), Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater and West Somerset), Marcus Fysh (Yeovil), David Warburton (Somerton and Frome), Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) and John Penrose (Weston super Mare) all voted against the motion.

Wells MP James Heappey did not vote.

Marcus Fysh, the MP for South Somerset, said: "This week Parliament voted on extending free school meals outside termtime. There has been a vast amount of misinformation about the vote and I wanted to clear up a few concerns that have been raised with me by some constituents.

"It has been said that the Government has not supported those children in most need, but nothing could be farther from the truth. This Government has extended free school meal eligibility to a further 50,000 children and expanded programmes like breakfast clubs."

The motion, put forward by the Labour Party, proposed the government's free school meals system to be extended across the coming holidays.

In the summer, the scheme was extended after a Government u-turn following a campaign again led by Manchester United star Rashford.

Mr Fysh added: "We extended free school meals over the summer holiday this year because most children had not been in school since March and families had been meeting the extra costs of this.

"This autumn, the situation is totally different. 99 per cent of children are back in school and have therefore been benefitting from free school meals during term as normal.

"We should absolutely help vulnerable kids and we are 100 per cent doing that, but personal and parental responsibility is also hugely important and we should be working to help people be independent from the state - creating jobs, boosting skills, helping people in to work etc - not making people more reliant.

"We are supporting people through the current pandemic and will continue to do so. Only today a further £454,000 in extra funding has been given to South Somerset to help support local people through the winter months during the pandemic."

Marcus Rashford took to social media after the vote with his statement.

The forward, who scored for Manchester United in Paris on Tuesday evening, said: "Put aside all the noise, the digs, the party politics and let’s focus on the reality.

“A significant number of children are going to bed tonight not only hungry but feeling like they do not matter because of comments that have been made today.

“We must stop stigmatising, judging and pointing fingers. Our views are being clouded by political affiliation.

“This is not politics, this is humanity.”

Rashford added that child food poverty “has the potential to become the greatest pandemic the country has ever faced”.

He said: “We must start working together and unite to protect our most vulnerable children. No more sticking plasters. Let’s face this head on.

“I don’t have the education of a politician, many on Twitter have made that clear today, but I have a social education having lived through this and having spent time with the families and children most affected.

“These children matter. These children are the future of this country. They are not just another statistic. And for as long as they don’t have a voice, they will have mine. You have my word on that.”