politics

Peer complained 'not enough British people' work in Lords restaurant kitchen


Pampered peers lodged a string of complaints about the House of Lords canteen – including one who moaned there were not enough British chefs in the kitchen.

Well fed Lords enjoy exclusive access to a host of restaurants and bars in the House, which serve food and drink subsidised at taxpayer expense.

Most recently, staff dealt with a series of complaints about catering options being reduced while London was plunged into Covid-19 lockdowns and Tier restrictions.

One griped that the Peers’ Dining Room and Bishops’ Bar had been closed in June 2020, and that the sale of alcohol on the Parliamentary Estate had been halted.

Earlier comments included complaints about the cost of coffee in the dining halls, and that the range of pre-packed sandwiches was “limited” and in “small supply.”

In April 2018, one unnamed peer commented that “more British chefs could work in House of Lords kitchen”.



The Barry Room

The House was in recess at the time the complaint was received, but Peers had most recently been debating post-Brexit border control, immigration and the right of EU citizens to work in the UK.

Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrats ’ Home Affairs spokesman said: ” Boris Johnson stuffing the House of Lords with his dodgy mates is clearly having its effect.

“Instead of playing at Downton Abbey, these peers should be looking beyond their own dinner plate and address the real problems people across the country are facing.”

A House of Lords spokesman said: “The House of Lords administration, including the Catering and Retail Service, operates an open recruitment process that follows best practice in ensuring fairness for all candidates.

“This includes a “blind” application process so that recruiting managers shortlist on the basis of skills, experience and qualifications. This is to help ensure we hire the best candidates for the job, irrespective of their background.

“We will continue to recruit in line with relevant employment legislation, including any changes to eligibility to work in this country after the end of the Brexit transition period from 1 January.”




The list of complaints was obtained by the Mirror under Freedom of Information laws.

Staff dealt with some 18 complaints from Lords and their staff between March 2018 and November 2020.

Three complaints received this year related to the closure of  the “Catering Accounts Scheme” – which allowed MPs and Peers to register a credit card with the restaurants as a ‘running tab’, rather than settling up for each visit.

The scheme was closed this year because it wasn’t in line with data storage guidelines.

Two unnamed peers complained about the avocado in the Bishops’ Bar, while another was dissatisfied with the Brunch offering available in the Long Room.

And in June 2020 there was a request for more provision to be made for people with type-2 diabetes and avoid carbohydrates.

Almost £2 million of taxpayers’ money was spent subsidising the exclusive bars and restaurants in the House of Lords in the last year.

Restaurants for Lords in the Palace of Westminster are propped up with public cash because many of them make a loss.

The Peers’ Dining Room makes the biggest loss of all the facilities, requiring £830,207 to keep it afloat last year.

The House of Lords doesn’t routinely publish the menu available to Peers, staff and guests.

But one released under Freedom of Information laws in 2018 revealed the bargain prices enjoyed by well-kept peers.

A Lemon thyme chicken breast in the Barry Room Brasserie could be enjoyed for as little as £14.50, while a Herefordshire beef cheeseburger with onion rings was just £11.75.

A full English breakfast in the Millbank Restaurant cost a mere £3.70.

And the three-course “Long Room” buffet is just £11.00, with a £2.10 supplement for roast meat.

Prices increase each year, but remain a fraction of the prices paid by the public in central London restaurants.

Peers are paid an allowance of £305 for every day they attend Parliament, plus travel expenses.





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