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News, gossip and insight from PoliticsHome Editor Paul Waugh

No such thing as a free lunch

The Chancellor often says that Labour put off the day of reckoning over the nation's 'maxed out' credit card. But it looks like some Tories are refusing to actually dig into their own pockets to pay some of the bills in here Manchester.

I can report that the Radisson Edwardian Hotel has had a rash of 'no pays' for lunches, teas, coffees and even dinners at its Alto restaurant.

Cheeky delegates, who are not staying as guests at the hotel, have been waltzing in, finding tables, ordering grub or drinks and then just waltzing out again. The problem was particularly acute yesterday after the conference emptied after key speeches, I'm told.

But someone has to pick up the tab, of course and it seems those at the bottom are suffering. I'm told that one poor member of the hotel staff has had to pay £80 from her own pocket to foot the bill for a gaggle of delegates who supped their wine and promptly legged it. Not quite the 'all in it together' theme of the conference. (Now all diners and drinkers are being routinely checked, Stasi-like for their room numbers).

While we're on this theme, it turns out that the Chancellor himself refused to cough up when presented with a dinner bill on Saturday night.

George Osborne joined David Cameron, wife Sam, Steve Hilton, Ed Llewellyn and Kate Fall for what they thought was a quiet Chinese away from it all. Sadly for them, a nearby table was stuffed with Lobby hacks who all witnessed as the bill for the Prime Ministerial meal was presented. The PM had smartly scarpered early and avoided the embarassing scenes as first Osborne then Kate Fall refused to pay up. In the end, it looked like Hilton was being persuaded to put it on his credit card.

I wonder what Eric Pickles would think? As part of his crackdown on waste, the man we love to call a 'roly poly' politician will today flag up the problem with corporate credit cards being used in Whitehall to pay for meals.

"I'm sure you will be assured to know that I pay for my own chicken chow mein.." he'll say in his speech this afternoon.

Wonder if he'll slip in an addendum: "....unlike the PM and Chancellor..."?

 

UPDATE: The Radisson are strenously denying claims that a member of staff has been forced to foot any bill. Hope to have more soon, I have a call in. 

FURTHER UPDATE:  A spokeswoman for the Radisson Hotel chain says that there is no truth in the allegation that delegates left without paying. Just as importantly, she added: "Under no circumstances would staff be asked to make up any deficit on bills. It's not true."

 

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