Tory peer under fire from Welby over food bank remarks

The Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised a Tory peer who suggested there was no link between benefit changes and the rise of food banks.

The Church of England has played a principal role in the provision of food banksReuters

Lord Prior of Brampton, a Conservative minister for NHS productivity in the upper chamber, attracted the criticism for saying it was "strange" that food bank use has increased while other people are eating too much.

"It is also a paradox, isn't it, that we have this issue with food banks at a time when obesity is one of the biggest threats to the future," the Tory peer told the House of Lords.

"It is a strange situation around the world that we have both a problem with obesity and an issue with nutrition as well."

However Justin Welby took exception to the minister's claim there was no link between benefit changes and the need for food banks.

"Our experience in the Church of England, involved in the vast majority of food banks across the country, is that between 35 per cent and 45 per cent of people coming to get support from food banks report that the reason they are running out of food is to do with changes to the benefits system and sanctions," said the Archbishop.

Although Lord Brampton dismissed Welby's comments saying the situation is "much more complex" than he suggested, the archbishop was not alone in his criticism.

Labour's shadow environment secretary, Kerry McCarthy, branded it "more out of touch nonsense from this government."

"The only 'strange situation' is a Tory Minister who doesn't understand why his government's policies are forcing families up and down this country to rely on food banks," she told Mail Online.

"He should get along to his nearest food bank and talk to people there about why they are going hungry."

The former investment banker was also criticised by fellow peers. Lord Cashman, a Labour peer, took the Tory to task, noting that people were starving and obesity was not synonymous with wealth.

"I would point out that food banks result because people are going hungry. People are starving in this country and should not have to rely on such charity," Cashman said.

"Would he [Prior] not agree with me that obesity often occurs with people on very meagre budgets who have to have the worst kind of food in order to feel satisfied?"

Feeding Britain, an all-party report into hunger in the UK, last year found that a range of structural issues from low wages and rising living costs alongside benefit delays and cuts were the predominant cause for the exponential rise in food banks.