“Bristol MP and health minister Dawn Primarolo has spoken of her determination to target happy hours in an attempt to cut the £2.7 billion cost of drink problems to the NHS,” explains tonight’s Evening Cancer.
Fine. But how about if the Bristol South MP and Minister of State for Sanctimonious Bleating starts the ball rolling at her own place of work? Here’s a rather smart press release from Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (or pubs as they’re usually called) spilling a few beans about our elected representatives’ happy 24-hour arrangements they have for themselves:
SUBSIDISED BOOZE: MPs LOSE PARLIAMENTARY PRIVILEGE FOR THE SUMMER
EMBARGOED UNTIL 00:01 22/07/08
MPs leaving Westminster for the summer face a gruelling 12-weeks in the real world without subsidised drink.
Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers research revealed today has uncovered hidden statistics which show the House of Commons Refreshment Department operated on a subsidy of £5.5 million of taxpayers’ money in the 2007/08 financial year, equivalent to total annual tax receipts from 35 pubs.
The subsidy, not published in the House of Commons’ Annual Accounts, was £693,000 higher than in 2006/07, a 15% increase. It accounted for 43% of the Department’s operating costs, meaning that the taxpayer coughs up £4.30 for every £10 spent refreshing our politicians: even before they claim back their outgoings without receipts through the notorious expenses system.
There are at least 12 bars in the Parliamentary estate, excluding the various dining rooms, brasseries and banqueting suites. Unsurprisingly, given the MPs write their own laws as well as ours, they operate without a licence and have no restrictions on hours.
Given the level of subsidy, it is unsurprising that MPs can enjoy much cheaper drinks than their constituents. A pint of Foster’s in Stranger’s Bar costs £2.10, compared with a national average of £2.80 (33% higher) and a London average of around £3.00 (43% higher). A House of Commons 8-year-old Scotch costs £1.35, while our politicians can enjoy a Pimm’s on the Thames-side terrace for just £1.65.
Nick Bish, ALMR Chief Executive comments: “A 12 week break gives our MPs plenty of time to visit their local pubs. They will see that pubs are the centres of communities, that they make significant contributions to their local economies and that they are highly responsible alcohol retailers.
“Maybe then, when they return to the cheap and abundant drink of the Westminster village, they will think again about the relentless regulation and rapidly rising costs hitting the Great British Pub and revisit the crippling alcohol duty escalator.”
Hat tip (for the press release): Guido Fawkes