Bercow to crack down on boozy commons
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Monday 19 March 2012
The Speaker of the Commons is to call "last orders" on the parliamentary drinking culture, it emerged yesterday. With plans to change opening hours, bar prices and tab debts, and to instruct staff not to serve "tired and emotional" members, John Bercow is said to be anxious that a crackdown on inebriation addresses the problem of the Commons' public image following the recent drink-fuelled misadventures of the MP Eric Joyce.
The changes that could now take place inside the infamous Strangers Bar will, however, come too late for Mr Joyce. In an interview with the Sunday Times yesterday he revealed that his continuing problems with alcohol and violence may yet see him "die or go to jail".
The MP, now stripped of the Labour whip, said he had drunk a bottle of wine in the bar before starting a rampage against Tory MPs and the police. He was convicted of four counts of assault and fined £3,000.
If Mr Bercow's proposed reforms had been in place, Mr Joyce might have been refused more wine and his bill would have been steeper.
At a meeting last month, the incident involving Mr Joyce is said have left the Commission with little choice but to act urgently and to accept that MPs' excessive drinking needed to be limited by a new set of enforceable rules. The review is expected to be completed before the end of April.
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