Socialist Worker

No expense spared when it comes to booze for MPs

by Sian Ruddick
Issue No. 2112

New figures have revealed the massive subsidies doled out to MPs in the bars of the House of Commons. They have also exposed the government’s hypocrisy over “binge drinking”.

MPs enjoy a variety of bars and restaurants where alcohol is subsidised by £5.5 million a year. This figure covers some 43 percent of the Commons Refreshment Department’s operating costs.

These bars operate without a licence and have no restrictions on the hours they remain open.

A pint of standard lager in the Strangers Bar in the Commons costs £2.10. This compares to a national average of £2.80 and a London average of £3.00.

Questions put in parliament have revealed that the contents of the government’s wine cellar is valued at £2.4 million.

But government ministers declined to reveal the wine cellar’s stock list, arguing that secrecy was necessary to “protect the commercial interests of Government Hospitality and its suppliers”.

Meanwhile a sustained media campaign demonises ordinary working class people for drinking too much.

Plans are being drawn up to crack down on drinking on the streets and on public transport. There are also proposals for supermarkets to raise the price of alcohol on their shelves.

MPs live a life of luxury while we are told to “tighten our belts” in the face of rising costs for food, energy and credit.

We are already paying for their economic crisis in terms of job cuts and below-inflation pay rises – now we’re picking up their bar bill too.

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Article information

Tue 29 Jul 2008, 18:10 BST
Issue No. 2112
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