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Campaigners celebrate school meals victory

Campaigners have welcomed the government’s U-turn on its pledge to scrap free school meals after the policy was omitted from the Queen’s Speech.

The Conservative manifesto promised to scrap the provision of universal infant free school meals (UIFSM), replacing it with a free breakfast, and planned to add the estimated £650m in savings to the core schools budget.

The policy did not, however, feature in Wednesday’s Queen’s Speech, in which the government set out its plans for the next two years of parliament.

Campaigners welcomed the ditching of a policy that many schools believed would have a negative impact on children’s health. “By protecting free school meals for infants, two million children are still guaranteed a decent meal every school day,” said The Children’s Society chief executive Matthew Reed.

The Queen’s Speech also unveiled government plans to bring forward a Fisheries Bill and Agriculture Bill which will set out a policy framework for the UK outside of the Common Fisheries Policy and Common Agricultural Policy.

The Food and Drink Federation said the new fisheries policy “must ensure continued access to the supplies we need at competitive prices, whether domestically caught or imported”.

The National Farmers Union, meanwhile, said the Agriculture Bill provided an opportunity “to embed the long term strategic importance of the farming sector for the nation”.