Lawmakers’ Drunken Brawls Mean New Rules at Parliament’s Bars

May 2, 2012 2:32pm

It just got a little bit harder for British lawmakers to drink on the job at the House of Commons.

The House of Commons’ four bars, which  open every day and stay open well into the night when Parliament is in session, have established new rules to curtail drunkenness and avoid a repeat of the  brawl sloshed Labor MP Eric Joyce got into earlier this year after a long night of drinking.

In March, Joyce was accused of assault and a month later confessed to throwing punches at lawmakers, even head-butting a fellow MP at  one Commons’ watering hole, the Stranger’s Bar.  Joyce was later suspended and said he wouldn’t run for re-election in 2015.

Under the new rules “to promote responsible alcohol use” that the House Commission  announced Tuesday,  bartenders would be instructed to “refuse to serve customers when necessary.”

Lawmakers, who long appreciated bartenders’ quick feet and loose wrists, can now expect to have their Pimm’s cups  and other boozy drinks  ”topped up less frequently.”

On the plus side, as if to compensate for the new constraints, MPs will have a greater choice of drinks, but on the down side, they’ll all contain less alcohol than what was previously on tap. Lawmakers can enjoy “a wider range of nonalcoholic drinks and lower strength beers,” is the way the Commons Commission put it  in a statement.

Perhaps most vexing to MPs used to their daily tipple are the higher prices they’ll have to pay for their beverages. Drinks had long been subsidized, meaning an MP paid about half of what an ordinary Londoner shelled out for the same beer at a nearby pub.

But compare their lot to that of their counterparts on the other side of the Atlantic,  where alcoholic drinks - actually only beer and wine – are served only in the U.S. Capitol’s Members Dining Room and only until 2:30 p.m. when Congress is in session.

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