Subsidy for MPs’ bars and restaurants rises to £5.8m

Taxpayers fork out £5.8m for MPs’ food bills

THE taxpayer-funded subsidy which enables MPs to enjoy cheap meals, wines and spirits in the Commons has soared to £5.8million a year.

Figures yesterday revealed that the subsidy shot up by £87,000, despite promises by parliamentary officials to scale back perks for politicians’ meals and drinks.

The Commons Commission said in June 2010 that £500,000 should be sliced from catering costs and bar prices should rise to those of high street pubs as part of a £12m cut to the Commons budget.

But in the Members Dining Room, MPs are served an artichoke and tomato salad with truffle dressing for £2.05, or a seared breast of pigeon with aubergine purée and spiced couscous for just £4.15.

A risotto of pea and broad bean with Golden Cross goat’s cheese costs £2.40, while MPs wishing to splash out on a char-grilled rib-eye steak with hand-cut chips and béarnaise sauce pay £7.80.

For pudding, they can enjoy a green tea and white chocolate brûlée for £2.05 or the cheese board for £3.10.

In the Terrace restaurant, a spinach, ricotta and sundried tomato pizza with a rocket salad costs £2.75, while at Moncrieff’s restaurant Members can enjoy a roasted half spring chicken with stuffing for £2.95.

Afterwards, they can head to the Pugin Room bar, where a glass of malt whisky, Cointreau liqueur or Grand Marnier costs £2.55. Glasses of 2009 Sauvignon Blanc or 2010 Merlot are £2.35.

A total of £1.33m was spent in the House of Commons bars in the year ending 31 March 2011, figures show.

An analysis of commons accounts reveals the size of the subsidy has increased despite MPs spending less of their own money on food compared to last year.

Sales in Parliament’s 19 restaurants, nine bars and one coffee shop fell 8pc to £7.5 million in the financial year 2010/11. It means for every £10 an MP spent on lunch, the public contributed £7.60. The year before, the public contributed £6.90.

John O’Connell, Research Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers were told that subsidies like this were on their way out, but unbelievably the cost has actually increased. Generous subsidies like these are not the everyday reality for ordinary families under pressure and they shouldn’t be for politicians either.

“Parliamentarians must follow through on earlier pledges and tighten their belts, just as taxpayers are.”

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