Richard Benyon, British richest MP who lectured families on food waste, gives bread to the poor through the window of his manor

Let them eat leftovers: Minister who lectured families on food waste plays Lord of the Manor handing bread to the poor through the WINDOW of his manor
Richard Benyon claims the average family wastes 50 of food a monthNamed country's wealthiest MP, worth an estimated 110millionHe told people to read storage labels properly and keep fruit in the fridgePrime Minister insists the government is helping struggling families

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The government has been stung by criticism that it is out of touch after Mr Benyon claimed the average family wastes food worth 50-a-month.

The minister suggested people were wrong to keep fruit in a bowl and instead should be packed in the fridge

The minister suggested people were wrong to keep fruit in a bowl and instead should be packed in the fridge

Mr Benyon, who is the heir to the Englefield Estate near Reading in Berkshire, was accused of being out of touch

Mr Benyon, who is the heir to the Englefield Estate near Reading in Berkshire, was accused of being out of touch

Mr Benyon told MPS: ‘We have been needlessly throwing away enormous amounts of food when it is perfectly safe to eat it.

KEEN COOK LANDS HIMSELF IN HOT WATER WITH FOOD TIPS FOR POOR

Environment minister Richard Benyon was accused of being out of touch

Richard Benyon lists cooking among his interests in his Who's Who entry.

But his comments about food waste in the kitchen have landed him in hot water.

The ministerial advice on how to store food is made more politically damaging by the fact that the 49-year-old was today named as Britain's richest MP.

As the heir to the heir to former MP Sir William Benyon, he stands to inherit some 110million from the vast 20,000 acres Englefield Estate in Berkshire.

Born in October 1960, he attended Bradfield College, a public school which counts former Foreign Secretary Lord Owen, cricketer Mark Nicholas and comedian Tony Hancock among its old boys.

He studied for an statement management degree at the Royal Agricultural College – dubbed the Oxford for gentleman farmers – and served as a soldier in the Royal Green Jackets.

He married Emma Villiers in 1988 and had three sons before divorcing. In 2004 he married Zoe Robinson and the couple have two sons. He was elected Tory MP for Newbury in 2005.

A shooting and fishing enthusiast, he has courted controversy since becoming an environment minister in 2010, including sanctioning a cull of buzzards, selling off forests and cutting flood defences.

‘Food
wasted means fewer pounds in our pocket. Household bills are squeezed
at the moment and we have the opportunity through a variety of different
agencies to inform people better about where their food comes from and
how to use it most economically.’

Challenged
about the comments, Prime Minister David Cameron told the BBC:
‘Obviously, that does not look good.’ But he suggested the comments had
been taken out of context.

During a Commons debate on food waste, Mr Benyon went on to issue a raft of advice to families on how to store food at home.

‘Keeping most fruit in the fridge in its packaging can keep it fresher for a week or more, but around 60 per cent of us take fruit out of the packaging, and more than 70 per cent of us do not store it in the fridge.

‘Re-closing packs of cheese and sliced meats helps to stop them drying out in the fridge, but 13 per cent of us apparently store such food unwrapped in the fridge.

‘We can all pay attention to the storage information on food packaging, which will help us to store food at home so that it keeps fresher for longer.’

However, rising food prices have been blamed for piling pressure on families.

Official figures today show fruit prices are more than 10 per cent higher than last year with vegetable costs up 6.7 per cent.

Tory
MP Stephen McPartland said: ‘I don’t think it is right for the
Government to preach to people who choose to purchase food and use that
food.

‘Nobody likes waste
and families on low incomes often buy in bulk because it can be cheaper.
No one in those families are wasting food intentionally,’ he told the
Telegraph.

Paul Nowak, assistant general
secretary of the TUC, said: ‘Of course we should cut down on food waste
but Britain’s families need a change of economic policy rather than
domestic science lessons from cosseted ministers.

‘Mr
Benyon is out of touch with the squeeze on living standards if he
thinks careful fridge management will bring relief. It’s austerity
that’s past its sell-by date.’

Mary Creagh, Labour’s shadow environment, secretary, said: 'Mums struggling to feed their families don't need lectures on wrapping cheese from a Tory Government which has created a cost of living crisis with its failed economic plan.

'People are cutting back on food, eating less fresh meat, fruit and vegetables and foodbanks can barely cope.

'This out of touch Government's response to the cost of living crisis is condescension and a tax cut for millionaires.'

Official figures show how food prices have risen sharply in the last 12 months

Official figures show how food prices have risen sharply in the last 12 months

And Labour MP Michael Dugher added: ‘this Tory minister’s answer to rising poverty is basically, 'Let them eat leftovers’. It’s another crass, patronising and out-of-touch lecture from a minister.”

But Mr Cameron insisted the government was working to help people on low incomes.

The PM said: ‘The real truth here is we need to help families with their household bills, that’s why we’re freezing the council tax for the third year in a row, that’s why we’ve delivered a tax cut for 24m working people by lifting the amount you can earn before you start paying tax, that’s why we’ve cancelled fuel duty increase, we’ve cut the duty on beer, we’re getting behind working families who work hard and want to do the right thing and that is what we’re doing.’

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