Plymouth Gin: Mayflower Commemorations

Oral Answers to Questions — House of Commons Commission – in the House of Commons on 28th March 2019.

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Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Fisheries, Flooding and Water)

To ask the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington, representing the House of Commons Commission, whether the House of Commons plans to stock Plymouth Gin during the Mayflower 400 commemorations.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

The House of Commons catering service does not currently stock Plymouth Gin, but will seek to stock some for the Mayflower 400 commemorations.

Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Fisheries, Flooding and Water)

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that answer, which will warm the spirits of people in Plymouth. Plymouth Gin is a fantastic gin, and Mayflower 400, which marks the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from Plymouth to America, is a great opportunity. In these tough times, may I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that we look not only at the standard-strength gin, but Plymouth Gin’s Navy strength as well? We could all do with a little bit extra in these tough times.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that. He may be aware of moves within the House to look at the availability of alcohol in this place; I am not sure whether the House will want to entertain the idea of double or triple-strength gins. However, he has put his point on the record and I will take it back to the catering services, including whether they want to stock the double or triple-strength gin that he proposes.

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning Conservative, Hemel Hempstead

As the House authorities are aware, wholesalers have a monopoly, particularly when it comes to putting beer into Strangers Bar. Red Squirrel Brewery, which is in my constituency, managed to get it in there after five years, but only after having to go through the wholesaler designated by the House. The margins made it almost unprofitable for it to put the beer in there. That is wrong: there should not be a monopoly in this House.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

I say to those observing our proceedings that that interesting inquiry does relate to alcohol, but not to gin. It is a sort of side observation from the right hon. Gentleman, borne of his personal experience, for which we are grateful.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

I assume that it is in order for me to respond very briefly, Mr Speaker. Clearly, the right hon. Gentleman has put on the record his concerns about how the process works, but he will also be aware that Members do at least, through the guest beer option, have the possibility of bringing their own specialist beers to the House.