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Drinks sales (2016)

Request

  1. Can you please let me know the total amount spent on alcohol at each of the bars/restaurants at the House of Commons over the past three financial years? (2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16) Please break this information down by year.
  2. Please break down separately how much was spent on wine, beer/lager, cider, spirits, champagne at each of the bars/restaurants. Please also break this information down by year.
  3. In the financial year 2015-16 only, what were the ten most expensive bottles of wine, champagne or champagne purchased, and what were they?
  4. Over the last three years (broken down by year), what was the total amount of money owed to commons bars and restaurants in unpaid bills?
  5. Broken down by the last three financial years, how much money was paid in subsidies across all bars and restaurants in the House of Commons?

 

 

Response

  1. Can you please let me know the total amount spent on alcohol at each of the bars/restaurants at the House of Commons over the past three financial years? (2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16). Please break this information down by year.
    and
  2. Please break down separately how much was spent on wine, beer/lager, cider, spirits, champagne at each of the bars/restaurants. Again, please also break this information down by year.
    The amount spent by the House of Commons on alcohol for its venues.
    The spreadsheet provides details of the amount in total, as well as broken down by wine, beer and spirits, for each venue in the financial years 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16.
    Please note that purchases for the Member’s Dining Room, Strangers Dining Room and Smoking Room are grouped as the ‘Members Dispense Bar’, and cannot be disaggregated further.
  3. In the financial year 2015-16 only, what were the ten most expensive bottles of wine or champagne purchased, and what were they?
    The House of Commons holds this information. The ten most expensive bottles of wine or champagne are also listed on the spreadsheet shown above.
  4. Over the last three years (broken down by year), what was the total amount of money owed to Commons bars and restaurants in unpaid bills?
    The total amount of money owed to bars and restaurants in unpaid bills is not held by the House of Commons. The following information may help you to understand why this is the case.
    The House of Commons has a commercial trading operation within the organisation. As with any such organisation, money is owed in the relation of services or goods provided by the House to a third party. The House thus has a moving debtor position at all times. The Accounts Receivable and Debt Management Team actively manage these balance and collect owed sums in a timely manner. Where companies or individuals fail to pay to the agreed term, the House will assess situation and determine and appropriate action, which includes the possibility for legal action. 
    Despite this fluctuating position, the House takes quarterly ‘snapshots’ of catering debts older than 90 days for monitoring and transparency purposes. This information is published on the parliamentary website.
  5. Broken down by the last three financial years, how much money was paid in subsidies across all bars and restaurants in the House of Commons?
    The House accepts that there is a great deal of public interest in the prices of food and drink sold from venues across the parliamentary estate and we are frequently asked about the ‘catering subsidy’.
    It is important to note that catering services for the House of Commons are provided by an in-house team who do not provide a subsidised service in the commercial sense of the word. However, the overall cost of providing the service does exceed the income received in sales due to the irregular hours and unpredictability of parliamentary business. The House monitors the contribution or cost of each venue. The contribution or cost of each venue is calculated by subtracting the food and operational costs from the catering sales. Prices of food and drink are regularly benchmarked against appropriate external comparators.
    Please also note that the customers who use the on-site catering venues include some of the 650 elected Members of Parliament. However, they also include around 14,500 other pass-holders (MPs’ staff, House staff, civil servants, contractors’ staff, Peers, members of the Press Gallery, etc.) as well as a large number of non-pass holding visitors to Parliament.
    The annual totals of the cost of catering is held by the House of Commons, reported yearly as a transparency publication. You will see that these costs have been more than halved since the beginning of the last Parliament, from £6m in 2010/11 to £2.4m in 2014/15.
    As this information is reasonably accessible to you otherwise than under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), your request is refused. In refusing your request the House is applying the exemption set out in section 21 (1) and (2) (a) of the FOIA. This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.