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    Posted on Nov 15, 2013

    MPs Spent £13,000 Doing Up Their Own Pub (Where You Can Get Subsidised Booze)

    Our politicians have just had their bar modernised. Anyone fancy a pint?

    Hello there, thirsty politician. In the House of Commons? That's lucky, because we've got just the bar for you.

    SIBA / Via

    This is Strangers Bar, the most popular of the all the House of Commons pubs. Only MPs and their staff are allowed in, although they can bring guests.

    And this summer over £13,000 of public money was spent on refurbishing the subsidised bar.

    Scuola di Atene / Via Flickr: scuoladiatene

    The figure was revealed following a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

    These two enjoyed their pints so much that they've drained every last drop out of their glasses.

    The Houses of Parliament is one of the best places to get drunk in London.

    The newly-refurbished Strangers Bar give you access to the House of Commons terrace, which has to be the greatest beer garden in the capital.

    But it's not the only place to get a pint in parliament - around a dozen restaurants and bars across parliament receive a public subsidy of over £7 million a year.

    And, as a result, MPs often get drunk in Strangers. Sometimes it gets a bit out of hand.

    Last year Eric Joyce MP was suspended from the Labour party after starting a brawl in Strangers.

    He declared "There are too many fucking Tories in here" before starting a fight. It took eight police officers to restrain him.

    Joyce later told the authorities: "It was a wee scuffly thing…If people said I was hammered, that was probably true."

    And sometimes they're too drunk to vote.

    Mark Reckless / Via

    Conservative MP Mark Reckless missed a vote on the 2010 Budget after a heavy night in Strangers.

    He said: "I'm terribly, terribly embarrassed. I apologise unreservedly and I don't plan to drink again at Westminster".

    It's one thing for existing MPs to have access to subsidised booze and food. But all former MPs also have the right to a top-level parliamentary pass. This includes politicians kicked out during the expenses scandal.

    We used the Freedom of Information act to see which former MPs are wandering around the parliamentary estate. It shows that several ex-MPs who lost their jobs over dubious expenses claims still have unlimited access to the subsidised booze and drink – and can pop into Strangers whenever they want.

    One of them is Peter Viggers, who expensed £1,600 for a duck house. / Via Wikimedia Commons

    Ex-Tory MP Viggers was forced to step down after it was revealed that the millionaire had charged the taxpayer for the installation of duck island at his country house. But he can still eat and drink on the cheap in parliament. It's quackers.

    Another man with a pass is Derek Conway, who employed his son to do, er, nothing.

    Derek Conway paid his son Henry £10,000 a year to work as his Westminster assistant, even though he was a full-time student at the University of Newcastle.

    Not that Conway junior seemed too upset when the story emerged – he used the publicity to launch a clubnight called "Fuck off I'm Rich" and turned up to the opening night dressed as an 18th century dandy in a carriage pulled by horses.

    His Tory MP dad was forced to step down at the next election – but despite expelled from the party and resigning his job in disgrace, Derek Conway decided to claim a former member's pass – allowing him access to parliament's bars and restaurants.

    Another ex-MP with a pass is Douglas Hogg, who tried to claim £2,115 for "moat cleaning".

    The 3rd Viscount Hailsham owns a large country house called Kettlethorpe Hall in Lincolnshire and claimed thousands of pounds from parliament to maintain it. He was forced to step down as a result – but, yup you guessed it, he's still wandering around parliament on a former member's pass.

    Even Jonathan Aitken is still able to walk around parliament and pop into its bars whenever he wants.

    The former Conservative minister was convicted of perjury in 1999. But he's welcome in Westminster.

    And then there’s Lembit. There’s always Lembit.

    Unlike the other ex-MPs on this list, Liberal Democrat Lembit Opik has done nothing worse than date a Cheeky Girl and desperately trying to warn the world about the looming threat of an asteroid hitting earth.

    But even though his constituents firmly kicked him out of one of the safest Lib Dem seats back in the 2010 general election, he’s still regularly found drinking subsidised booze in the newly-refurbished Strangers thanks to that pass dangling around his neck.

    In short, the taxpayer is subsidising politicians and former MPs to have access to a damn good pub.

    Trebles all round. *hic*

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