Tuesday 13 August 2013

Snouts in the beer trough

In March 2009, I wrote: "While ordinary pub-goers have to pay excessive amounts of tax in pubs - for our own good of course - it’s always our round when our politicians hit the ale", referring to the subsidy of £5.5 million of taxpayers’ money received by the House of Commons Refreshment Department in the 2007/8 financial year.

Well, four years and various expenses scandals later, I regret to report they're still at it. The subsidy for the House of Commons bars and restaurants was £4.9 million in the 2012/23 year; the equivalent figure for the Lords was £2.3 million, making a total of £7.2 million.

These are the same people who brought you the alcohol tax escalator and wanted to bring in minimum pricing because alcohol available to the plebs is too cheap and they can't be trusted to behave themselves or look after their health unless the nanny state directs their actions. And yet the arrest of Eric Joyce, MP for Falkirk, earlier this year after he headbutted a Tory MP in a parliamentary bar - his second such arrest and merely the latest in a series of incidents involving politicians - shows that the honourable members are not themselves capable of responsible drinking. After this incident, I tried to set up an e-petition to the government stating that, as they had removed bars from all public sector workplaces over the last few decades, the Palace of Westminster, as a public sector workplace, should be alcohol-free too. It was rejected.

Their utter hypocrisy is really quite staggering.


  1. I would have gladly signed that petition. To say that they are out of touch is an understatement.

  2. "As they had removed bars from all public sector workplaces over the last few decades."

    About 18 years ago, I was "between jobs" as they say, and ended up working as a Christmas casual at our local Royal Mail sorting office. Not only did they have a very good canteen there, but there was also a bar. This was adjacent to the restroom, which was literally just a few steps away from the sorting room floor. I wasn't tempted, as it was keg Whitbread, and besides there was (and still is) a decent pub just up the road where I could call in to at the end of my shift, should I fancy a drink.

    Having spent the majority of my working life in the private sector., I was somewhat surprised by this arrangement. It was actually meant for postal workers who had finished theri shift, but there was nothing to stop anyone having a crafty bottle of light ale, rather than a cup of tea on their break. I would imagine the vast majority of workers there were sensible over the use of this facility, but in the light of what you have said Nev, I very much doubt the bar is still there today.


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