Sheffield cutlery keeps place at parliamentary tables after battle

Angela Smith MP with the new Sheffield-made stainless steel cutlery introduced in the House of Commons
Angela Smith MP with the new Sheffield-made stainless steel cutlery introduced in the House of Commons
Have your say

Sheffield's proud tradition of supplying cutlery to parliament has been maintained, after a fight to prevent the contract going overseas.

Knives, forks and spoons produced in the city have long graced dining tables at the House of Commons, but there were fears that custom would end after Westminster bosses announced cost-cutting proposals to shift production to Vietnam.

However, MPs and visiting dignitaries will continue to tuck into meals using tableware crafted in the home of cutlery, it has emerged, after a successful campaign to preserve the historic association.

READ MORE: Warning notices issued to motorists parking in cycle lanes in Sheffield
Arthur Price, which made cutlery for the Titanic, has produced thousands of sets of stainless steel cutlery at its Handsworth factory to replace the silver-plated utensils being phased out at the Palace of Westminster.

Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith was delighted to see the new equipment when she sat down to eat this week.

"It was with a lovely to surprise to find out the Strangers' restaurant in the House of Commons has decided after all to use Arthur Price of Sheffield for its new cutlery," she said.

READ MORE: Police tackle begging in Sheffield city centre
"Sheffield cutlery is world famous and is renowned for its quality. It would have been a tragedy if they'd gone elsewhere. Now diners from all over the world will be eating their food using Sheffield-marked cutlery. What a great advert for Sheffield manufacturing."

The contract was actually awarded to the Crewe-based catering company Alliance, which is supplying cutlery made by Arthur Price in Sheffield.

Although it will be produced in Sheffield via traditional methods, the majority of steel used is understood to have been sourced from overseas.

READ MORE: Man stabbed in eight-man brawl outside Sheffield barber shop
More than 12,000 pieces of cutlery will be provided over the five-year contract, the first of which was rolled out for diners in mid-April.

A House of Commons spokesman said: "The new Portcullis-embossed range is made in the finest tradition of the Sheffield cutlers, and replaces the silver-plated cutlery previously in use while resulting in substantial financial savings."

Commons chiefs sparked an outcry in 2015 when they suggested switching from silver-plated cutlery to steel tableware made in Vietnam.

Nick Clegg, who was then deputy prime minister, joined other city MPs including Ms Smith in demanding a rethink, with the promotional group Made in Sheffield also speaking out.

Although the switch from silver to steel went ahead, their pressure helped retain the Sheffield link after the contract went out to tender in 2016.

The Portcullis logo, which was due to be scrapped in an attempt to reduce the number of items being stolen, has also preserved following a backlash.

It was initially estimated the switch would save £10,000 a year, with the stainless steel replacements being both cheaper to produce and easier to polish, but a Commons spokesman said the final savings were expected to amount to just under £34,000 over five years.