Sheffield MPs get knives out in Commons cutlery row

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Sheffield Labour MPs say they have fought off plans to sell House of Commons silver and replace it with stainless steel tableware from Vietnam.

The 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.

And it has 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.

Angela Smith said: “I know Sheffield cutlery is the best in the world.

“Unfortunately, the cutlery in the House of Commons has proved far too attractive to some visitors.

“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.”

Commons catering chief suggested the switch to stainless steel after calculating it would cost £72,400 to keep the silver due to expenditure, including sharpening, burnishing, repair and replacement over the next five years.

Chris Hudson, of world-renowned cutlery manufacturer Chimo Holdings in Sheffield, said: “I was amazed and saddened to hear this.

“There are still world-leading cutlery manufacturers in Sheffield, making tableware to suit every occasion and every budget.

“The city is renowned worldwide for its cutlery.”