.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Friday, May 30, 2014

Drinking culture continues in House of Commons

The Times reports that the House of Commons has been spending £750,000 a year on alcohol for resale to politicians and their staff.

They say that tens of thousands of bottles of beer, wine, champagne and whisky were purchased for sale in the House’s bars and restaurants as the government was considering introducing minimum pricing for alcohol for the general public:

Details released under the Freedom of Information Act show that £1.43 million worth of alcohol was purchased by the parliamentary authorities for sale in the House in 2012 and 2013. 

The bill, equivalent to an annual spending of £1,100 per MP, covers the two years after David Cameron ordered officials to draw up plans for a minimum price per unit of alcohol to curb the rest of the nation’s drinkers. 

The bulk of the alcohol will have been drunk by the 650 MPs, their 3,000 staff and 1,800 parliamentary workers. The extensive drinks list would not look out of place in a Soho drinking den or celebrity nightclub with the “family friendly” sitting hours introduced by Tony Blair serving to give MPs more time to drink in the evening. 

The Commons drinking culture was exposed in the trial of Nigel Evans, the Tory MP cleared of sexually assaulting a young man following a drinks session in the Strangers’ Bar. 

Eric Joyce resigned from the Labour party, but remained an MP, in 2012 after being convicted of hitting three Tory MPs during a drunken rampage in the same bar. 

Wine accounts for about half the spending, with House of Commons label sauvignon, which sells for £13.80 a bottle in the Strangers’ Bar, the favourite, with a total order of 49,464 bottles. 

There were also orders for 6,036 bottles of House claret, at £17.50 each. As the nation endured years of austerity there was clearly plenty to celebrate in the House with orders for 8,502 bottles of champagne at £32.50 a go. 

The Commons authorities bought 33,696 pints of House ale. Imported bottled lager was the most popular, with 10,248 bottles of German-made Becks at £2.70 each, and 10,800 bottles of Italian Peroni Nastro Azzuro. 

Only 498 bottles of alcohol-free lager were bought. There were orders for 3,600 bottles of Commons whisky and 2,232 of port. 

Spending at the Commons bars has increased steadily over the past three years, from £222,697 in the year to April 2011 to £249,305 to April last year.

All of this is very well of course. If MPs want to drink themselves into oblivion that is their business, as long as they do it in their own time. However, what rankles the most is that the House continues to subsidise its catering and bar operations to the tune of about £5 million a year. How can that be justified?
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?