MPs attacked happy hours and cheap supermarket booze and I thought these puritan sentiments weren’t worth a mention. The last revenue estimate I could find was £13 billion for 04/05 and I figured that would probably cover extra NHS and policing costs, rather like the £8 billion raised from smokers ruins arguments about the burden they pose to the NHS (around £2 billion).
But via Devil’s Kitchen I reached a post by Mr Eugenides that really describes what incompetent, preaching, hypocritical, do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do, completely lacking in self-awareness, cocks our MPs are.
If I might quote from the Assoctiation of Licensed Retailers, as quoted by Mr E:
The House of Commons Refreshment Department operated on a subsidy of £5.5 million of taxpayers’ money in the 2007/08 financial year, equivalent to total annual tax receipts from 35 pubs. The subsidy, not published in the House of Commons’ Annual Accounts, was £693,000 higher than in 2006/07, a 15% increase.
It accounted for 43% of the Department’s operating costs, meaning that the taxpayer coughs up £4.30 for every £10 spent refreshing our politicians: even before they claim back their outgoings without receipts through the notorious expenses system.
There are at least 12 bars in the Parliamentary estate, excluding the various dining rooms, brasseries and banqueting suites. Unsurprisingly, given the MPs write their own laws as well as ours, they operate without a licence and have no restrictions on hours.
Given the level of subsidy, it is unsurprising that MPs can enjoy much cheaper drinks than their constituents. A pint of Foster’s in Stranger’s Bar costs £2.10, compared with a national average of £2.80 (33% higher) and a London average of around £3.00 (43% higher). A House of Commons 8-year-old Scotch costs £1.35, while our politicians can enjoy a Pimm’s on the Thames-side terrace for just £1.65.
And you know what, they don’t have a smoking ban either. The European parliament had one, but that only lasted 43 days.
Are there any elected representatives who, while constantly criticising us, pontificating on the ills of society, watching us, passing endless legislation, passing “incentives [which] can work to empower people to make informed choices” (to quote Lib Dem Norman Lamb), which of course in reality always means taxing the other options, are there any of them who see that opting themselves out of all this legislation makes them look like almighty hypocrites?
Oh dear, they seem to have made me all vicious and nihilistic rather than my normal calm analysis.