UK Politics

MPs waste £70,000 in uneaten food

A Conservative MP is calling for action after it emerged the House of Commons is throwing away £70,000 of waste food a year.

Anne Main said the Commons tea rooms and function suites always seemed to be full of unwanted sandwiches and other leftovers.

She said it should be given to the homeless or put to another use rather than just thrown away.

The Commons said it was just 4% of the annual catering budget.

Answering a Parliamentary question from Mrs Main, Commons Commissioner Sir Stuart Bell said the food waste in the Commons was "within industry norms".

'Fat mice'

But Mrs Main questioned whether the figure of 4%, which was for April 2009 to March 2010 and was slightly down on last year, could be accurate.

"It always seems that there is a lot of food left over at functions and in the Commons tea room," the St Albans MP told BBC News.

"It is food that is not being paid for. They could give it away, but they don't seem to do anything with it."

She said MPs should set an example to the general public by consuming food "more wisely".

"Since MPs are not supposed to having subsidised food any longer and if we are looking to be more sustainable in the way we source food, we should not be throwing away so much of it."

And she suggested all the waste food was adding to the pest problem in the Commons corridors and restaurants.

"We have very fat mice," she joked.

Food waste from the Commons is currently mixed with general waste and used to generate energy at a disposal facility in the London area.

The Commons authorities were due to carry out a review this year on whether food waste should be sent to "an anaerobic digestion facility" instead.

Bar bills

In a separate development, the Commons authorities have been criticised by the Information Commissioner Christopher Graham for delaying the release of details about MPs' unpaid restaurant and bar bills until after the general election.

Mr Graham said it was "completely unacceptable" to take more than seven months to publish the food and drink tabs of 74 MPs, following a freedom of information request by the Press Association.

Most of the bills ran to hundreds of pounds, with some adding up to thousands, and all were more than three months overdue.

The debts should have been disclosed within 20 working days of being requested but were instead kept secret until 19 May, by which time many of the MPs concerned had left the Commons

Mr Graham said the Commons had ignored repeated demands and deadlines to publish the material.

In April, the Commons said it could not deal with the request until after the general election because it ceased to be a public authority while Parliament was in recess.

All the MPs have now settled their bills.

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