Taxpayers spent £3.7m subsidising food and drink in Parliament last year

Posted On: 
3rd August 2016

Taxpayers spent more than £3.7m subsidising food and drink in the Houses of Parliament last year.

The cost of subsidising Commons bars and restaurants went up last year
PA Images

The cost of running bars and restaurants in Palace of Westminster is offset by profits from the retail services division.

The House of Commons subsidy has risen from £2.4m in 2014/15 to £2.5m in 2015/16.

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This figure was down from £4.5m the year in 2013/14, and £4.9m the year before that.

The deficit in the Lords has fallen from £1,348,673 last year to £1,207,827 this year.

The Tax Payers' Alliance said it was “deeply regrettable” that the subsidies are still in place.

Harry Davis, Campaign Manager at the campaign group, said: “It is irritating for people to know that their cash is still being used to subsidise the food and drink being enjoyed by MPs and peers while the Government is still spending way beyond its means.

“The parliamentary authorities need to reform the catering arrangements so that hard-pressed taxpayers are no longer propping up what ought to be profitable outlets.

“Before he became Prime Minister, David Cameron declared that he would end these subsidies, so it is deeply regrettable that seven years later and with him now out of office, the subsidies are still there.”

A House of Lords spokesperson said: “The catering subsidy was reduced by more than 10% in the last financial year and has been reduced by 39% in cash terms since 2007. We are working hard to reduce the subsidy even further.

“Our catering services meet the needs of a working House of Parliament. Due to the unpredictable nature of sittings of the House, and periods where the House doesn’t sit and so revenue is not generated, a subsidy is unavoidable.”

The spokesperson added: “We also pay all staff at least the London Living Wage and provide workplace pensions to our Catering and Retail Service staff.  We are proud to do so but it means our costs are higher than some commercial restaurants.”

A Commons spokesperson said: “Overall catering costs have more than halved since the beginning of the last Parliament due to the roll-out of a number of cost reduction initiatives and the successful expansion of our venue hire operation.

"The Commons catering service serves around 14,500 Parliamentary pass-holders as well as thousands of visitors to Parliament every year, but not all our venues are able to make a profit due to the irregular hours and unpredictability of parliamentary business. Our food and drink prices are regularly benchmarked against similar outlets outside Parliament, and the catering service continuously seeks to reduce costs and generate more income."