THE pledge to provide free school meals for Year 1 and 2 pupils sounds like a classic Government ‘good idea’ launched without working out how to implement it.

Deputy prime Minister Nick Clegg’s brainchild is being derided in some quarters as part of the naked political machinations necessary to keep the Coalition Government a reasonably happy ship, in public at least.

The problem is that here on the ground, Oxfordshire is saying it cannot make good on this scheme without £5m – or a wave of Harry Potter’s magic wand, according to education chief Melinda Tilley.

Well intended reforms are welcome but ministers have to provide councils with the meat for this particular sandwich.