Tuesday, 28 February 2012
The strangest thing about the Strangers Bar in the House of Commons - is the price it charges for drinks.
Like much else in the Palace of Westminster the all-day Strangers Bar is heavily subsidised - and you can buy a glass of wine for only £2.50 - much less than the going rate in any nearby public house or restaurant.
For reasons which MPs don't like to discuss the Commons catering service is subsidised to the tune of £5.8 million a year.
Or to put that another way - six times the amount of money (£963,000) offered to the boss of the Royal Bank of Scotland - Stephen Hester - as a performanc bonus.
Which Stephen Hester declined - of course.
After a huge public outcry from many - including Westminster MPs who said this was a terrible waste of public money.
Yet they subsidise their own eating and drinking habits to the tune of millions of pounds a year - and no one bats an eyelid.
In the year to March 2011 some £1.33 million was spent in the nine bars which are dotted around the House of Commons - saving MPs a pretty penny or two.
I can't see one good reason why the practice should continue - someone should do us all a favour and call last orders on the £5.8 million public subsidy.
Because MPs and their guests can well afford to pay the going rate - for their meals and drinks.