UK Politics

MPs to see beer and food subsidies reduced

Image caption Bitter taste? MPs will have to pay more for their beer

House of Commons bar prices are to rise to those of "high street" pub chains, as Parliament looks to make savings on subsidised food and drink.

The authorities want to cut £500,000 from catering costs, with money also being deducted from travel allowances for MPs' select committees.

The Commons Commission said politicians had to "respond to the economic challenges facing the country".

It promised a "fundamental review" of expenditure over the next three years.

Use of subsidised bars - open late, as they are not affected by licensing laws - is one of the perks of being an MP, peer or worker in the Palace of Westminster.

'First step'

The commission said it had decided to cut £12m from the Commons budget for the current financial year - 5% more than originally planned - in the light of reductions being made to public spending to deal with the budget deficit.

In a statement, it pledged to "bring cafeteria prices into line with benchmark workplace venues and bar prices into line with a competitively priced high street pub chain.

"More detailed consideration of further reductions in the catering subsidy will be part of a savings programme set up to identify and achieve additional budget reductions over the next three years."

House of Commons Commission spokesman and Labour MP Sir Stuart Bell said: "The commission fully recognises the need to respond to the economic challenges facing the country and to reduce the cost of the House to the public purse.

"As a first step we have taken immediate steps to reduce the House budget this year in line with similar reductions taking place elsewhere in the public sector.

"This will be an ongoing process and hard decisions will have to be made while continuing to ensure the delivery of effective parliamentary services to Members and the public."

There are several Commons bars and cafes. The cutbacks will also see select committee travel expenses reduced by £800,000 and a freeze on all but essential recruitment.

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