“They should take a packed lunch” - Sheffield man’s bid to axe cut-price fine dining in House of Lords

Alex Satchwell has launched an online petition to stop members of the House of Lords from getting cut price fine dining. Picture: Andrew Roe
Alex Satchwell has launched an online petition to stop members of the House of Lords from getting cut price fine dining. Picture: Andrew Roe
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A Sheffield man’s call to halt cut-price fine dining in the House of Lords has been backed by more than 127,000 people.

Alex Satchwell, aged 21 and from Fulwood, set up an online petition to remove the subsidies for catering services in Parliament’s second chamber.

The student, who is now at university at Nottingham, believes it is unfair that peers can enjoy cheaper meals paid for by the taxpayer - while 1.1 million people rely on food banks nationwide.

His petition calling for ‘imposed austerity on the £1.3 million annual catering budget’ of the house has now been backed by 127,000 people, which is over the number needed to trigger a debate on the topic.

Alex said he had been overwhelmed by the response from the public.

He added: “I first became interested in this when I heard that at Christmas they have a a mass feast - then in the Budget the Government decided to cut £18 billion, and so many people are using food banks, it just seemed completely wrong.

“I think people are realising that this is a complete lack of fairness.

“This is a stand out example about how the Government is failing in that aspect.”

And Alex’s solution for peers if the subsidy was cut was: “They should take a packed lunch instead - everyone else has to.”

Menus released under Freedom of Information give examples of dishes previously available in the eight House of Lords restaurants and bars, which were said to lose £2m last year.

In the Barry Room open to members, senior staff and guests, roulade of pigeon was served with celeriac purée, mushroom consommé and baby vegetables for £13.

A bottle of Chilean merlot was £16.50.

Sheffield has three members of the House of Lords.

Lord Paul Scriven of Hunters Bar, the city’s Liberal Democrat peer, said subsidised catering was an example of the ‘antiquated’ lords.

He added: “I have always said my one purpoose in going into the House of Lords was to get rid of it. If Labour and the Tories hadn’t ganged up in the last Parliament to block Lords reform when Nick Clegg tried to abolish the Lords this petition wouldn’t have been needed.”

Labour Lord David Blunkett, who has yet to make his maiden speech in the chamber, was unable to comment.

Crossbencher Sir Bob Kerslake could not be reached for comment.

A House of Lords spokesman said: “The House of Lords catering subsidy has been reduced by 27 per cent since 2007 and we are working hard to reduce the subsidy even further.

“Our catering services meet the needs of a working House of Parliament.

“Due to the unpredictable nature of sittings of the House, and periods where the House doesn’t sit and so revenue is not generated, a subsidy is unavoidable.

“We also pay all staff at least the London Living Wage and provide workplace pensions to our refreshment department staff.

“We are proud to do so but it means our costs are higher than some commercial restaurants.”