A PETITION calling for an end to subsidised meals for MPs has gained over 800,000 signatures in just three days - as its revealed most claim tens of thousands of pounds in expenses each year.

It comes after the Labour motion to extend the government’s free school meal scheme to cover holidays until Easter 2021 was rejected 261 votes to 322 – majority 61, with the Conservative party whipping its MPs to oppose the motion, and only five choosing to rebel.

The petition states: “We the electorate demand an end to the practice of paying expenses to MPs for food and drink; and that any and all food and drink in parliamentary establishments be chargeable to MPs at market rates.”

MPs can claim food expenses (up to £25 per night) if they stay overnight outside of both their constituency and the London area, though this cannot be used to cover alcohol, either in their office or while they’re travelling.

They are also allowed to eat and drink in parliament’s various bars and restaurants (as are all parliamentary staff and visitors).

This food and drink is not directly subsidised, but catering services across the House of Commons run at a loss, meaning that public money is effectively spent subsidising the overall catering operation.

320 of the 322 who opposed the motion were Conservative MPs - including all three North Hampshire representatives: Maria Miller (Basingstoke); Kit Malthouse (North West Hampshire); and Ranil Jayawardena (North East Hampshire).

A website entitled ‘MPs against free school meals’ has collated the total expenses figures for each of the opposing MPs over the last year (2019/20).

In this period, Maria Miller claimed £14,851.20, Kit Mathouse claimed £50, 640.91, and Ranil Jayawardena claimed £56,584.59.

Portia Lawrie, who started the petition, said on Friday, October 23: "I only started this petition yesterday because I was so angry that some MPs had rejected the chance in parliament, and Marcus Rashford's campaign, to extend free school meals into the school holiday. I wanted to point out the clear hypocrisy between that and the food and drink the public subsidises for MP's whilst denying support to those most in need of it."

"I couldn't quite believe what I was watching unfold as hundreds of thousands of people threw their support behind it in less than 24 hours. It’s simply unfair that the government is refusing to use OUR money for one of the most basic responsibilities of a compassionate society - feeding hungry children. And the level of support this petition is getting shows clearly the level of hurt caused by those who voted against it."

"Many MPs are pushing for free school meals to be extended into the school holidays, and I applaud them. But It’s time for the government to listen to them, and us, and make sure children across the UK do not go hungry any longer. Enough is enough."