Minister for Asia Nigel Adams revealed drinking rates had fallen for the first time since 2017, despite the bill also being at its highest in the same period
Image: NurPhoto/PA Images)
The Tory government splashed more than £73,000 on wine supplies in the year before the Covid lockdown hit.
Ministers opted for the best English and Welsh wines, with those bottles making 73% of their bill, which were bought for entertainment purposes.
But it’s likely the vast majority of the booze remains undrunk, under lock and key in the government’s wine cellar, since large events have been all but banned.
The Government’s wine cellar supplies a range of events and functions from dinners at Chequers to departmental receptions.
This bill is for the 2019/20 financial year, which came to an end just as Covid-19 related death rates in England soared, peaking at 1,431 each day on April 8 2020.
Nigel Adams’ written statement to Parliament said the government was unable to generate any profit for the cellar, because of the pandemic.
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Despite the £73,094 bill for 2019/20, drinking rates in Westminster had fallen for the first time in three years.
From April 2018-19, alcohol consumption was on the rise, but fell the following year by 17.5%.
The government’s high-spec temperature controlled wine cellar, is based in Lancaster House.
Established in 1922 and contains 1,024 bottles of wine as of 2018 amidst a cellar of 33,097 bottles of wines and spirits.
New fine wine stock is purchased on one or two occasions each year.
The figures come days after the government pushed through cuts to the aid budget despite a Tory revolt with former Prime Minister Theresa May amongst rebels.
Boris Johnson opened the crunch Commons debate on the decision, saying the UK’s public finances are under a “greater strain than ever before in peacetime history” and “every pound we spend on aid has to be borrowed and, in fact, represents not our money but money that we’re taking from future generations”.
But Mrs May – rebelling for the first time in her parliamentary career – said the cut meant the Government “turns its back on the poorest in the world”.
Under the new system, funding will only return to 0.7% if the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) believes the UK is not borrowing to finance day-to-day spending and underlying debt is falling.