Student campaigners quiz Steve McCabe MP on youth cuts, homophobia and free school meals

Steve McCabe MP met with local students from Wheeler’s Lane Technology College and was quizzed on a number of issues including cuts to youth services, homophobia and free school meals.

As part of their Citizenship lessons, local students invited Steve McCabe MP along to their class to ask for his views on campaigns that they are working on. Five different groups asked Steve what he thought on:  stopping the cuts to youth services, improving rehabilitation for young offenders, improving the way homophobia is dealt with in schools, expanding free school meals to all primary school children and raising the legal age at which people can buy tobacco from 18 to 21.

On the subject of homophobia, Steve told students that all schools should have a clear cut anti-bullying policy in place and attitudes also need change as homophobia isn’t something that only happens in schools. On free school meals, Steve said he supported the introduction of this and had played a part in pushing through the idea when he was in government but he stressed that although the policy idea was good, the current government should have done its homework beforehand to check that schools had kitchens were equipped to actually deliver the meals as it turned out many didn’t have the capacity and that money was now having to come out of existing school budgets which should be used for education purposes.

Having worked with young offenders for many years before he was an MP, Steve argued that those who commit offences should expect to be punished but he didn’t feel custody should be the automatic response to a first time offender unless they have committed a serious offence. Instead, he was in favour of community punishment and in the case of vandalism said people ought to be made to put right any damage that they cause. On the question of smoking he acknowledged the public health case and noted that the last Labour government had raised the age from 16 to 18 but said it might be a bit absurd if you could legally buy alcohol at 18 and not cigarettes until age 21.

Steve McCabe MP said:

“It was great to meet with students from Wheeler’s Lane Technology College, the campaigns they are running are very interesting and thought provoking and I was more than happy to share my views on some difficult issues. I think it’s fantastic that the teenagers I met are actively thinking about these issues and I definitely had my work cut out answering some well thought out questions.”

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