Tuesday, 18 May 2021

‘Need a clear head!’ Fury as Lords rack up eye-watering £1.7million alcohol tab in 5 years

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Peers, who are usually paid £323 a day for attending the House of Lords, are among those who have spent £266,029 on beer and £510,872 on sparkling wines since 2015. But the biggest amount during this time was on wine at a huge £957,443. The House of Commons spent £1,073,724 on drinks from 2017 to 2020 in comparison, according to figures for the Lords Catering and Retail Service.

Taxpayers are also said to pay £57,000 a week to subsidise food and drink across both houses.

National Obesity Forum chairman Tam Fry criticised the Government for allowing those who work in the houses to drink there.

He said: “The Palace of Westminster should be alcohol free.

“It is frightening that liquor is so readily available when the people we send to work there need a clear head for the jobs they have to do.

“If your average commuter has to pop out for a drink at lunchtime and, maybe, pick up another one on the way home, why should his representative not have to, too?

“The Government tells us that 14 units of alcohol should be any adult’s weekly limit.

“It should reinforce that message by ensuring its headquarters is dry.”

A Lords spokesman said: “All food and drink purchased by the House of Lords Catering and Retail Service is resold above cost price to members and other visitors to the Parliamentary Estate.”

A recent Freedom of Information Act obtained by the Daily Mirror revealed £1.9 million of taxpayers’ money subsidised bars and restaurants at the House of Lords last year.

The figure was £682,000 more than the previous year, the FOI showed.

Taxpayers stump up money for Lords in the Palace of Westminster because many of the businesses make a loss.

However, it is not clear why there is a loss.

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The subsidy would reportedly be higher without the extra help from profits brought in from banqueting events.

Last year, they helped raise a profit of £710,420.

A House of Lords spokesman said: “Our catering services meet the needs of a working House of Parliament.

“Due to the unpredictable nature of sittings of the House, and periods where the House doesn’t sit and so revenue is not generated, a subsidy is unavoidable.

“We also pay all our staff at least the London Living Wage and provide workplace pensions to our catering staff.

“We are proud to do so, but it means our costs are higher than some commercial restaurants.

“The catering facilities in the House of Lords are used by a wide number of people, not just members, such as visitors, staff, journalists and police officers.”

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