MP's moan about taxpayer-funded lunch

Houses of ParliamentLewis Whyld/PA Wire/Press Association Images

We spend a small fortune subsidising meals for MPs in the House of Commons. In fact, it costs us about £5.8 million a year. It's thanks to our generosity that MPs making hundreds of thousands of pounds a year can enjoy gourmet lunches with ample change from a £5 note.

So what could they possibly complain about?

Complaints

Apparently, just about everything. The Daily Telegraph has revealed some of the more outlandish complaints to the House of Commons dining room. A particular favourite has to be that the chips weren't stacked in a tower on the plate, rendering them a tad on the soggy side.

But it doesn't stop here. They also complained that crisps from the vending machine were more expensive than in a supermarket, that the soup bowls are too small, there's not enough beetroot in the salad or couscous on the side. One complained that he received his change in coins of too small a denomination, and another at the attitude of staff when she complained that breakfast wasn't served after 10.30 (when most of us would have assumed the time for breakfast was over and the time for work had begun).

Let us not forget that this is the food which is paid for in the main by the taxpayer - in fact we pay around £7.60 for every £10 spent in the dining room. It's why they can expect pan-fried red mullet with carrot purée and a soft boiled quail's egg for £4.15 .

The price of drinks in the Commons have gone up after the Commons Commission ruled they should be raised to roughly equal high street pubs. A pint of bitter now costs £2.60. The outcry was predictable, from many claiming to be shocked at how prices had gone up and were now more expensive than local pubs. I'm not sure where they drink, but the pubs in Westminster I've been to won't give you much change out of a £10 for a couple of drinks.

Get a grip

Oh, the life of the MP is so very hard. If only they worked in the heart of a buzzing metropolis with eateries every few metres, so they could buy their own food or bring it from home like the rest of the working population.

Clearly a wake-up call is long overdue. We have to ask why on earth we are paying for a dining room in the Commons at all. Are MPs incapable of carrying Tupperware? Are they really so busy they cannot walk five minutes outside the building for a sandwich? If they have the time for a menu featuring starters and main courses, they have enough time to pop to Boots for a sandwich and eat it at their desks? And if they are paid such a large wage, why on earth are we helping out with the cost of their lunch too?

Let's respond to these complaints not with some lilly-livered apology or half-hearted attempt to increase prices. Let's close the restaurant and leave the MPs to fend for themselves in the real world.

It might be just what they need.
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