Speaker's plans to end booze culture in Westminster scrapped after staff claim they will pay for antics of drunk MPsJohn Bercow unveiled plans after MP Eric Joyce assaulted colleagues in Commons barStaff say they will be penalised because MPs will not suffer same restrictionsBan replaced by a voluntary code for drinking at Westminster
22:37 GMT, 29 December 2012
John Bercow’s attempt to call time on Westminster’s hard-drinking culture was in tatters last night after plans for a total ‘no-alcohol’ policy for Commons staff were ditched.
The Speaker has taken action to curb excessive drinking at the Commons after Labour MP Eric Joyce assaulted colleagues in a Westminster bar. Waiters are now told to top up glasses less frequently and provide more non-alcoholic drinks.
But radical plans to tackle consumption among parliamentary staff – by banning drinking at work – have now been scrapped by Commons managers.
Speaker John Bercow's plans to ban drinking in Westminster have been rejected by Commons staff
In stormy meetings, rank-and-file workers complained the ban would not apply to MPs, saying: ‘Staff are being penalised because of the actions of drunk MPs.’
The ban is now set to be replaced by a ‘voluntary’ policy stating that drinking at work should be allowed only in exceptional circumstances.
However, Commons managers insist that the Westminster drinking culture is not confined to MPs.
According to records of a series of staff meetings in June, Commons doctor Ira Madan specifically raised the alarm over drinking levels.
Disgraced: John Bercow announced his intentions to ban drinking in Westminster after Labour MP Eric Joyce assaulted a colleague in a Commons bar earlier this year
The minutes read: ‘The House Doctor is concerned at the proportion of staff she sees who have alcohol-related problems.’
Commons managers later concluded: ‘There is a culture of drinking in some parts of the House service.’
Last night Mr Bercow declined to comment on the alcohol ban retreat.
A Commons spokesman said: ‘Following feedback on the practicalities of a complete ban, the management board is proposing a greater emphasis on education and support.’