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House of Lords angered by proposed Champagne cuts, committee hears

It may be an age of austerity, but the quality of Champagne served in the UK House of Lords bar is beyond reproach, according to disclosures made during a Parliamentary hearing.

Image credit: House of Lords / UK Parliament

Lords were angered at the idea that they should save money by merging their catering facilities with MPs in the UK’s lower Parliamentary chamber, the House of Commons.

It all came down to the quality of Champagne on offer at subsidised bars, according to Sir Malcolm Jack, who was clerk of the House of Commons between 2006 and 2011.

‘The person in charge of catering came with proposals to provide a joint catering service, and it was eventually thrown out in the House of Lords because the Lords feared that the quality of Champagne would not be as good if they chose a joint service,’ Jack told a Parliamentary governance committee late last week.

‘Did you make that up?’ asked the committee chair. ‘It is true,’ said Jack, who added that he thought Lords were wrong to criticise the Champagne at House of Commons bars. ‘We were very careful in our selection,’ he said.

A House of Lords spokesperson disputed Jack’s version of events. ‘The House of Lords would not reject a merger of catering services with the House of Commons simply on the supply of Champagne,’ the spokesperson told Decanter.com. It was simply not clear that the Lords would save money via a merger, he said.

Both the Lords and the Commons serve largely own-brand Champagne, although a stock list for the Commons published earlier this year features Taittinger and Lenoble Champagne houses.

According to the Telegraph newspaper, the House of Lords has spent £265,770 on 17,000 bottles of Champagne since 2010. The Commons spent £275,221 on 25,000 bottles, it reported, citing accounts up to the end of March this year.

Written by Chris Mercer

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