The Government will consider whether to supply the UK's poorest schoolgirls with free sanitary products, after it emerged that a charity which donates the items to Kenya to combat 'period poverty' has now begun doing so in Yorkshire.

Education Secretary Justine Greening yesterday told MPs she would "look at" the issue following reports that female pupils in the UK are failing to attend school because they cannot afford sanitary products.

Freedom4Girls last week said it decided to take action in the UK after being contacted by a school in Leeds that believes its female pupils are not turning up as they cannot afford tampons or sanitary towels.

The issue was raised in Parliament by Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland, who urged Greening to make free products available to all female pupils who are eligible for free school meals.

The Liberal Democrat MP said: "[It's] deeply shocking in the 21st century that girls, including in Leeds, are not going to school because they can't afford sanitary products.

"Will the Secretary of State eliminate this and introduce free sanitary products for all girls receiving free school meals?"

Greening replied: "You have raised an important issue and it's one that I will look at carefully and write to you about."

Unlike condoms, which are routinely given away by GP surgeries and sexual health clinics, provision of free tampons and sanitary towels is less widespread.

Some schools and workplaces choose to provide them, and they sometimes can be collected from homeless shelters, hostels and food banks – with UK food bank charity the Trussell Trust urging those who donate food to consider giving feminine products too.