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Commons bar bill £1.4m in two years

THE House of Commons spent more than £1.4 million on alcohol to sell in the Palace of Westminster bars, restaurants and shops in 2012 and 2013, official figures have shown.

Parliamentary authorities bought nearly 50,000 bottles of House of Commons sauvignon, more than 26,000 of House merlot and more than 33,000 pints of guest ale over the two-year period. In ­addition more than 8,500 bottles of champagne were purchased, alongside over 2,100 bottles of Speaker John Bercow's whisky.

It means spending in Commons bars has increased in recent years from just over £222,000 in April 2011 to more than £249,000 in the year to April 2013. This may reflect rising prices.

The figures were revealed in a Freedom of Information request by the Times, which parliamentary authorities published online.

The figures may lead to questions over Parliament's supposed drinking culture, which was laid bare in the trial of Tory MP Nigel Evans, who was cleared of sex offences. The Commons booze culture also hit the headlines when Eric Joyce was forced to resign the Labour whip in 2012 after fighting Tory MPs in a Commons bar.

Most of the alcohol is likely to have been drunk by the 650 MPs, 760 peers, and thousands of staff and parliamentary workers.

A Commons spokeswoman said an increase in commercial events would have accounted for a rise in demand for alcohol. "It is not possible to disaggregate sales or consumption by user," she said.

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