£1.4m bill for alcohol at House of Commons

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The House of Commons spent more than £1.4m on alcohol to sell in Palace of Westminster bars, restaurants and shops in 2012 and 2013, official figures have shown.

A Freedom of Information request response published online by the parliamentary authorities showed it bought nearly 50,000 bottles of House of Commons sauvignon, more than 26,000 of House merlot and more than 33,000 pints of guest ale over the two-year period.

More than 8,500 bottles of champagne were purchased, alongside over 2,100 bottles of Speaker John Bercow’s whisky.

The figures may lead to further questions over Parliament’s supposed drinking culture, which was laid bare in the trial of Tory MP Nigel Evans, who was cleared of sex offences. The Commons booze culture also hit the headlines when Eric Joyce was forced to resign the Labour whip in 2012 after fighting Tory MPs in a Commons bar.

Most of the alcohol is likely to have been drunk by the 650 MPs, 760 peers, and thousands of staff and parliamentary workers in the Palace of Westminster.

But a Commons spokeswoman said an increase in commercial events accounted for a rise in demand for alcohol and helped bring down the price of running catering services in the Palace.

She said £458,861 worth of the alcohol was bought specifically to be sold in retail shops in the Palace, rather than bars and restaurants.

The spokeswoman said: “The increasing trend is to sell more receptions than dinner events, which attract higher numbers of guests and is the reason for increased consumption and sales in alcohol.

“By allowing commercial events to take place, the House is able to help reduce the running cost of the House to the taxpayer.

“The cost of providing a catering service for the House of Commons is steadily decreasing.”