City MPs claim victory in Commons cutlery clash

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Sheffield Labour MPs have slashed plans to sell House of Commons silver cutlery and replace it with stainless steel tableware from Vietnam.

The hacked-off group, led by Angela Smith and Clive Betts, claim to have forced the Commons Administration Committee to drop proposals which included selling silver-plated cutlery to tourists and replacing it with a £17,000 stainless steel set made in the Far East.

The Committee has now agreed that replacements should be top quality and obtained by competitive tender after taking the advice of trade bodies – including Sheffield’s historic Company of Cutlers, they say.

A Commons catering chief suggested the switch to stainless steel after calculating it would cost £72,400 to sharpen, burnish, repair and replace the Commons silver cutlery over the next five years.

Angela Smith said: “Sheffield cutlery is the best in the world. I don’t blame the Committee for considering ways of cutting its losses, but this was completely the wrong way to do it. ”

Clive Betts said: “We want to see Sheffield cutlery in the Houses of Parliament. People also expect us to ensure that we get the best value for all expenditure.”

MPs on the committee have now asked catering chiefs to look at buying cutlery made in the UK.

Chris Hudson, of world-renowned cutlery manufacturer Chimo Holdings in Sheffield, said: “I was amazed and saddened to hear this story. There are still world-leading cutlery manufacturers in Sheffield, making tableware to suit every occasion and budget.

“The Made in Sheffield mark, to many people, actually means ‘the best cutlery you can buy’.

“We are lobbying all Sheffield MPs to reverse the decision for the Commons to buy cutlery from Vietnam and to instead buy the best – cutlery Made In Sheffield.”

Charles Turner, chairman of the Made in Sheffield organisation, which represents 300 manufacturers, added: “To ignore the world’s best cutlers on its doorstep does not make sense. I am confident Sheffield can provide the highest standard of cutlery at the right price. UK Government should be championing UK manufacturing. Our MPs should insist on ‘Made in Sheffield’.”

Catering officials say a new stainless steel set would cost £17,000 to buy and £6,800 to replace items that go missing.