The Daily Mirror has published a story about ‘Champagne Charlie’ MPs spending ‘astonishing’ amounts of money on alcohol in parliamentary bars – but it turns out to be a big fuss about nothing.
Following a Freedom of Information request, the Mirror published an article titled PARLIAMENT’S BOOZE BILL HAS TRIPLED IN TWO YEARS – TO £1.8 MILLION. The paper paints a picture of booze-guzzling MPs ramping up the bar bill inside the House of Commons and Palace of Westminster.
The story was also picked up by The Sun.
But the reason the bill has tripled in two years is because the House of Commons has increased the number of commercial and private hire events where alcohol is sold to external customers. This has been done in an attempt to reduce the overall running costs of the bars, which are subsidised by the taxpayer unless they make a profit.
A House of Commons spokesman said that external sales made up ‘more than half of alcohol sales in the past two years’.
It’s also worth noting that the bars are used not just by the 650 MPs but by around 14,500 pass-holders (such as civil servants, Peers and contractors) plus non-pass holding visitors.
So even if the external commercial sales are excluded, the whole bill works out at less than £2.50 per week per head.
Like The Sun and the Daily Mail with their tales of ‘shocking’ foreign aid and health tourism costs, the Daily Mirror has tried to bamboozle readers with big numbers. But as is often the case with these things when you scratch beneath the surface, it’s a total non-story.
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