House of Lords demands its own caterer because Parliament's Champagne isn't good enough


#1

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#2

To be fair, if you are going to have a “House of Lords” and a “House of Commons”, isn’t the whole point that Lords see themselves as better than mere commoners and their presumably plebeian catering?


#3

Of all the heartwrenching stories I’ve read on Boing Boing, this is easily the heartwrenchingest.


#4

s/Parliament/Commons/

(The House of Lords is part of Parliament, so talk of merging the Lords’ and Parliament’s catering makes no sense. As the Guardian article makes clear, the proposal is to merge the catering services of the House of Lords and the House of Commons.)


#5

Well, this isn’t decadent at all, no sir.


#6

If they are really Lords they should be able to bring their own waitstaff and vassals.


#7

The numbers sound big, until you do the math. 17000 bottles at £265,770 = £15/bottle. 380 bottles at £5,713 = also £15/bottle.

£1300000 / 780 = £1666/year = ~£6.4/day assuming the Lords work Mon-Fri (no clue there)

£15 per person five times a year doesn’t look especially ostentatious. For instance my IT employer pays my meals at 9 Euro per day, 5 times a week. Which means that in comparison I get £1855 for food per year, more than a Lord.

There’s plenty waste in government to be sure, but I’d have never guessed that I’d have been worse off at the House of Lords than as a programmer.


#8

You beat me to it. Those numbers seem positively frugal when you realize that the Lords aren’t personally drinking all the champagne. US Senators are expected to share nicely with visiting dignitaries and whoever is bribing them at the moment - I would expect the Lords are no different.


#9

Well, the lords are allowed to make egregious rounding errors that would doom a programmer to the unemployment line, like assuming that their drink budget should be around the same as your food budget.


#10

What error?

They have a £1.3M catering budget for 780 people = ~£6.4/day per person.
£265,770 out of that £1.3M is spent on champagne.

So overall, a Lord has less money allocated for food per day than I do, and that’s before accounting for those 5 bottles of champagne. If they work a normal schedule they’d have to eat fast food, as £6.4 wouldn’t seem to buy one a whole lot of food in London.


#11

They don’t work 40 hrs/wk for 50 wks/yr. Not even close. That’s the first issue in computing the ratio. Then there’s the fact that cafeteria food (even in the House of Lords, or the U.N. where I worked) doesn’t cost nearly as much per person as eating out in a restaurant, especially in those neighborhoods. And finally, this isn’t the same scenario as senators taking lobbyists (oh, excuse me, constituents) out for a working lunch: this is consumption on the grounds in what is basically the company lunchroom.

Interestingly, I can’t seem to find any verifiable info on how many days they DO work. I know sessions get called when needed, other than the opening session each year, but maybe someone “across the pond” knows the exact number for, say, the last 5 years?


#12

Ok, that makes sense.

Still, my point stands: it’s not all that much money per person, and a budget for 780 people for anything is going to come out with quite a few zeros. So far I still don’t see any evidence of waste here. On the contrary, the budget seems like a very lean one.


#13

I found somewhere that claimed that 20% of peers (about 148), attended parliament between 0 and 2 times in 2010.

I haven’t checked for more recent data, http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ has information on attendance.


#14

Alright, so from http://www.parliament.uk/about/faqs/house-of-lords-faqs/lords-sittings/ we have for 2013:

149 days, 497 people on average, 6:47 average length.

So with the £1.3M/year budget we have £2615/person/year = £17.5/day, minus champagne budget = £17/day.

Considering the 6:47 average length there’s probably breakfast plus the occasional water and tea/coffee, and the result still seems perfectly reasonable. Now they don’t have to subsist on fast food, but it’s still in the range of a perfectly normal budget, and not something lavish.


#15

What brand of champagne do they use to flush the toilets at Google?


#16

If you read/watch enough life hacks, you’d know Coke is the carbonated beverage of choice for toilet cleaning. :wink:


#17

The same thing happens in the United States: Congress consists of the Senate and House of Representatives, so technically both Senators and Representatives are “Congresscritters”. However, just try calling a Senator “Congressman” and see how far your interview gets…

(Gave up on gender-neutral language halfway. “Critter” seems totally appropriate to me.)


#18

At £15.65 per bottle, it’s almost as if it’s

Leela’s “Moderately-priced, domestic, non-vintage champagne”


#19

Another point in favor of eliminating the House of Lords. Now if we Americans could only eliminate our house of lords.


#20

On the other hand, given the instances where some truly ghastly nonsense oozes out of the Commons and gets shot down by the Lords, maybe it’s best to keep this one in perspective.

I’m not quite sure why they need a booze supply at all; but apparently the Commons also have one, and you probably don’t want to be left alone with those guys.