Commons acts to curb MPs’ drinking

Parliamentary commission issues new guidelines concerning alcohol and opening times of bars in House of Commons

House of Commons staff are being ordered to top up MPs’ glasses less frequently at functions amid concerns over the drinking culture at Westminster.

They will also receive training on how to refuse to serve drunken customers, and opening hours of bars on the estate could also be curtailed.

The moves by the Commons Commission follow the bar brawl which led to Eric Joyce’s conviction for punching and butting Tory MPs.

A spokesman for the cross-party committee said it agreed at a meeting that “a wider range of non-alcoholic drinks and lower strength beers will be provided in catering outlets”.

Staff serving alcohol will “receive further training and support in refusing to serve customers when necessary”, and “at receptions and events where alcohol was served, glasses would be topped up less frequently”.

A consultation is also to be held on the opening hours of bars on the Parliamentary Estate, and there will be efforts to publicise health and welfare support on offer to politicians and House staff.

Additionally, the Commission has acted to cut the amount of money being spent on olive trees which have been criticised for being a waste of money.

The cost of maintaining the shrubs, which dominate the MPs’ new offices in Portcullis House, has been around £44m a year. The Commission says it has negotiated the maintenance deal of £18.5m which will include other shrubs on the parliamentary estate.

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