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Oh My Lords!

On December 2nd, at what otherwise might have been a dull committee meeting, Sir Malcolm Jack was asked why the catering services of the House of Lords, the upper house, and the House of Commons could not have been merged to save money. He replied: “The lords feared that the quality of champagne would not be as good if they chose a joint service.” The astonished chair of the committee, Jack Straw, spoke for most of the nation as he gasped: “Did you make that up?” Sir Malcolm assured him he did not.

The national welfare budget has been cut and the number of people using free food banks has risen sharply in the past year. So the fact that the House of Lords has a champagne budget at all has caused some eye-rolling. According to The Guardian newspaper, the upper house has spent £265,770 on 17,000 bottles of the stuff since the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government took office in 2010—enough for five bottles of bubbly per peer per year.

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