MPs face catering price hikes in Commons

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Indy Politics

MPs will have to pay more for food and drink in the House of Commons, after parliamentary authorities announced they were slashing £12 million from this year's budget.

The savings are nearly 5% more than previously planned for 2010/11 and will reduce the budget for running the Commons to £219 million.

The House of Commons Commission said £500,000 would be saved by increasing catering prices, bringing the cafes used by MPs and parliamentary staff in line with typical workplace canteens and pushing bar prices up to the level of a High Street pub chain.

Also included in the belt-tightening exercise - designed to show that MPs are sharing in the financial pain elsewhere in the public sector - are a freeze on all but essential recruitment and a reduction in works to refurbish and improve the historic Commons buildings.

Some £800,000 will be slashed from the travel budget for select committees, which regularly attract unfavourable publicity with trips around the world to research policy issues.

More cuts in subsidies for Westminster bars, cafes and restaurants are expected as the Commission seeks to trim its budget further in a "fundamental review of expenditure" over the next three years. The Commission has already pledged to cut House spending by 9% by the end of 2012/13.

House of Commons Commission spokesman and senior Labour MP Sir Stuart Bell said: "The Commission fully recognises the need to respond to the economic challenges facing the country and to reduce the cost of the House to the public purse.

"As a first step, we have taken immediate steps to reduce the House budget this year in line with similar reductions taking place elsewhere in the public sector.

"This will be an ongoing process and hard decisions will have to be made while continuing to ensure the delivery of effective parliamentary services to Members and the public."