Humza Yousaf has been accused of "tying himself in knots" after claiming the SNP is both “the party of universalism” and will “target resources” to those who need them.

The First Minister insisted there is “not a conflict” between the opposing mantras as he was put under pressure over his government’s plans to expand free school meals.

Free school meals will be brought in for all pupils in Scotland’s primary schools on a phased basis, although Deputy First Minister Shona Robison has warned the Scottish Government is considering targeted help for secondary students.

Previously, Mr Yousaf told the Daily Record that children of higher earners should not be entitled to free school meals.

He said: “I’ve got a 14-year-old now. Should people be paying for her free school meals when I earn a First Minster’s salary?

“I don’t think that’s the right way to use that money. I think the better way to use the money is to target it to those that need it absolutely the most.”

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Labour MPS Monica Lennon pressed Mr Yosuaf over his stance.

She said: “Further to comments that he reportedly made in the Daily Record, will the First Minister provide an update on the roll-out of universal free school meals in primary schools and on the pilot programme to be launched in secondary schools?”

In response, Mr Yousaf insisted the SNP “is the party of universalism”, suggesting the Scottish Government wants to roll out support across the board, despite his comments about means-testing support.

Mr Yousaf added: “That is why we abolished tuition fees, which is something that Keir Starmer’s Labour Party is not going to be doing. It is why we are the party of the baby box and the party that introduced universal free school meals from primary 1 to primary 5.

“We stood on a manifesto commitment, and we remain committed, to the future roll-out for P6 and P7, and we are also looking at a pilot in secondary schools.”

But the FM said that “we will look at what more we can do around progressive taxation”, and pointing the finger at financial decisions made by the UK Government, added that “we will have to look at making really tough decisions”.

He said: “We will have to look at targeting across a range of potential policy areas.”

Mr Yousaf claimed that “there is not a conflict between universalism and being targeted”.

He said: “There are some rights that should be universal, such as the right to a free education and free university education. They are rights; they are not benefits or a luxury.

“At the same time, we should absolutely make sure that we are being targeted where we can, such as, for example, with the Scottish child payment.

“We are the party of universalism, but we are also the party that makes sure that we target our resources towards those who absolutely need the most help, particularly in the face of a UK Government that is inflicting harm upon harm on the poorest in our society.”

Asked about how two conflicting mantras can co-exist, a spokesperson for the First Minister told journalists that the Scottish Government has “introduced a lot of things on a universal basis”, but added that “we want to look at everything we are doing to make sure we are maximising spending”.

He added that “you need to look at each policy and decide what our best approach is”.

In response, Scottish Labour Education spokesperson Pam Duncan-Glancy, said: “This incoherent answer from the First Minister shows how confused his position is.

“While Humza Yousaf ties himself in knots, we are still waiting for the SNP to deliver on their manifesto promise of free school meals in primary schools.

“SNP incompetence is failing young people – they need to be honest about their plans and get serious about delivering on them.”