House of Commons officials are set to investigate claims that MPs frustrated by the closure of Westminster’s bars are turning their offices into secret ‘pubs’ – complete with optics and table football.
Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s ‘sympathy’ ban on alcohol sales in the Commons has already led to some MPs filling their office fridges with wine and beer, locking the doors and throwing impromptu parties.
But now Commons authorities have been tipped off that renegade Tories plan to replicate the atmosphere of the shuttered Strangers’ Bar in their Commons offices on the edge of the parliamentary estate.
Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s (pictured) ‘sympathy’ ban on alcohol sales in the Commons has already led to some MPs filling their office fridges with wine and beer
A source said: ‘They want to go the whole hog – spirits on optics, bar games such as table football, the works. It’s too risky in the main Commons buildings, but they can get away with it in offices away from the Chamber in the Norman Shaw buildings or Portcullis House.’
The ‘speakeasies’ revelation comes amid an extraordinary crackdown on politicians flouting social-distancing rules.
The Mail on Sunday has learned that over the Commons recess this week, officials will measure every MP’s office to see how many people each one can accommodate safely.
Security-pass checks revealed some backbenchers were breaking a strict rule that they can have only two members of staff in their Westminster offices at a time.
It also sparked claims that Sir Lindsay simply wanted to prevent a repeat of the incident exposed by The Mail on Sunday in which MPs in the Commons Smoking Room (pictured) drank after the 10pm curfew
One senior MP said: ‘Fortunately for the ones setting up their little bars, officials are doing this based on floor plans. They are not literally going into everyone’s office. At least, we hope they’re not.’
The Speaker outlawed alcohol sales in all Commons bars and canteens this month to bring the House into line with the ‘national picture’ of stricter rules for pubs.
But it infuriated some MPs – not least because the House of Lords is still allowing alcohol sales.
It also sparked claims that Sir Lindsay simply wanted to prevent a repeat of the incident exposed by The Mail on Sunday in which MPs in the Commons Smoking Room drank after the 10pm curfew.
One source said: ‘Given that Lindsay’s gone a bit over the top on this, it’s hardly surprising some MPs are making sure they can get a drink in their own offices.
‘After all, the Speaker has banned booze sales in the Commons – he hasn’t banned us drinking it.’
Charles Walker, chairman of the Commons Administration Committee, said: ‘The sale of alcohol in Commons bars and restaurants is prohibited. However, what colleagues and staff put in their fridges is, thankfully, a matter for them.’