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UK Politics

Alcoholic MPs seeking help, says Speaker John Bercow


An increasing number of MPs are seeking help for alcoholism as Parliament cracks down on Westminster's drinking culture, the Commons Speaker says.

John Bercow also suggested yesterday that there may be politicians with "other addiction issues".

Last week it emerged that Commons staff would be instructed to limit how often MPs' glasses are refilled at parliamentary receptions to encourage "responsible alcohol use". The crackdown follows a fight in the Commons Strangers' Bar, when Eric Joyce, the Falkirk MP, attacked other members.

Mr Bercow said there was no longer a heavy subsidy on alcohol served in Parliament's bars. "I think there are a number of other factors. There are issues relating to members who have had too much to drink," he said.

"It is important the medical service in the House is aware of members with problems. There is some evidence now that more members and staff who have got drink-related issues are seeking help and that's a positive.

"I think we are a reflection of society and just as there are people in every walk of life who have got issues to do with alcohol, and possibly other addiction issues, there can be problems in this place."

The Speaker also claimed voters felt let down by mainstream parties because they had not got what they voted for. He said the parties were "quite similar" and there "isn't a huge choice".