House of Commons to spend £420k on wine29th October, 2012 by Lucy Shaw
The House of Commons is seeking a selection of fine wine from around the world worth up to £420,000, it has emerged.
According to the Metro newspaper, would-be suppliers have been warned that the wine should be of hotel or private members’ club standard and “not widely available on the High Street.”
The wording of the tender, which offers a two-year contract to supply the four bars within the House of Commons, has sparked concern that MPs will appear elitist following the resignation of Conservative chief whip Andrew Mitchell who was accused of calling a police officer a “pleb”.
“The bars need a good wine supplier and there is nothing wrong with that, but the way it’s worded is a bit too pompous-sounding,” a Commons insider told the Metro.
“The brief suggests MPs are after wines the public don’t have access to, which sends out the wrong message,” the insider added.
In order to secure the best deal, suppliers will be allowed to bid openly for the contract.
“It is general practice for the on-trade business to avoid wines which are widely available on the high street,” a House of Commons spokesman said in defence of the move.
The Commons bars are subsidised by taxpayers and sell wine for as little as £2.35 a glass.
This February, a beer named Top Totty, brewed by Slater’s in Stafford, was banned from the Strangers’ Bar in the Houses of Parliament after being deemed offensive to female MPs.