Features

After years of tax hikes, now our MPs want cheaper pints in Parliament!

Image courtesy of Flickr user: tolomea

The current annual salary for an MP is £65,738. This works out as over £865 a week after tax, or £173 a day. Don’t forget MPs also receive expenses to cover the costs of employing staff, living in London, having a second home in their constituency, running an office, and travelling between their constituency home and Parliament.

Given all this, you may be surprised to hear that some of our MPs feel they pay too much for their favourite pint in the Westminster bars. How much is too much, you may ask? £3.20 for a pint of Becks, and £2.60 for a pint of John Smith’s.

Having lived in London for almost a year now, and having searched high and low for prices reminiscent of my undergrad days in Southampton, I have yet to find anywhere offering a pint of Smith’s at such a reasonable price, let alone somewhere as nice as the bars in the Palace of Westminster.

It smacks of a certain irony that, after months and months of repeatedly hiking up the controversial beer duty escalator, MPs are plotting to get the taxpayer to foot the bill for their cheap boozing.

According to The Sun, “prices in the Westminster bars are linked to those in a Wetherspoons pub on nearby Victoria Street – but always kept cheaper.”

Some senior MPs have even gone so far as to suggest that their Commons prices should be linked to a cheaper pub outside of the capital. The Sun claims to have seen a record of the Administration Committee’s meeting, which said: “Several Members suggested that the House should not benchmark against Central London pubs: those had to pay Central London rent, rates and utility charges, which House services did not pay.”

The taxpayer already subsidises House of Commons food and drink bars to the tune of £5.8 million each year, which would inevitably increase further if the price of a pint was subsidised, unless provisions where slashed somewhere else…how about that second home allowance?

Chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, Matthew Sinclair, said: “Politicians could not be more out of touch in demanding a bigger subsidy for their booze and meals.”

In April, Tory minister Stephen Hammond suggested MPs should receive a £40,000 pay rise, bringing a regular MP’s salary to £105,000.

I asked a few regulars in The Euston Flyer what they thought of MPs getting a price reduction on their pints, while the average punter now pays 40% more tax on their beer than they did in 2008.

Tim Ratcliffe, a 39-year-old builder from Streatham, said: “It just shows how out of touch [MPs] all are doesn’t it. Half of them don’t know how tough it is with the effects of the recession, well not on 65 grand a year anyway! Put them on £300 a week and ask them to live in London and then see how they get on worrying about the more important things before getting round to worry about saving a few pennies on a pint.”

Duncan Copeman, a 63-year-old retired salesman from Birmingham, said: “It makes my blood boil to think they get over £850 a week after tax and with all those expenses taken care of, and still want to live the easy life. Who doesn’t want to save a few quid every time they go to the pub?! It saddens me to say that I reckon most of our politicians don’t have a bloody clue what life is like for the ‘normal’ person.”

Do you think MPs should be entitled to a well-earned low cost pint or two at the end of the working week, or do you think they’re chancing their luck?

We’d love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to comment below.

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