Wednesday, 6 Jul 2022

Hoyle shuts down talk of closing Parliament bars after Wallace warns of ‘poisonous’ mix

PMQs: Hoyle reminds MPs on House rules

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The Speaker of the House of Commons rejected demands for the bars on Parliament to be shut down after a series of scandals involving alcohol on the Westminster estate. There has been increasing calls for an overhaul of the culture in Westminster.

Last month, Mr Wallace said MPs should “avoid the bars” on the Parliamentary estate.

He said alcohol after long hours in a high-pressure job could be a “poisonous” mix.

The minister said: “My advice to any MP is actually, avoid the bars – finish a day’s work and go home.”

But hitting back, Sir Lindsay pointed to the fact the armed forces have bars on their premises.

“I’ve not seen Ben closing many bars down within the armed forces,” he told Times Radio.

“So, you know, if the culture is fine there, why can’t we use the same kind of culture here?”

He added that while he disagreed with Mr Wallace, he had “the greatest of respect” for him.

Votes in the House of Commons can take place as late as 10.30pm at night, with debate even known to run into the early hours of the morning.

A number of bars and restaurants serving alcohol are available to those in Parliament during the working day and are frequently used by MPs during late night sittings of the Commons.

There has been repeated claims of punch-ups breaking out over the years as heated arguments spill over.

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Several MPs have even been suspended from using the facilities due to their behaviour.

Sir Lindsay admitted there was a need of “responsible drinking” in Parliament but that he would not be shutting down the bars on the estate.

He said: “We do work strange hours, we do work in a strange place, people are nowhere near home and therefore this isn’t a normal place of working, in the same way that one could argue if you’re in the armed forces of course you’ve got bars on camp as well.

“MPs bring in visitors maybe from overseas and from their constituencies and therefore they will take them onto the terrace for a drink.

“And I think it’s about social drinking, responsible drinking and I think everybody will find that acceptable.”

He added “I can’t bar people from every pub in London” as he pointed out Parliament is just 100 yards from a pub on the corner in Westminster.

In 2018, Parliament’s Sports and Social Bar was rebranded to The Woolsack in a bid to improve its image.

It came after a House of Commons staffer was arrested for glassing a man in the face during a furious brawl in the establishment in 2017.

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