An initiative to save the taxpayer money by merging the catering services for the House of Commons and House of Lords was rejected by peers because they feared the quality of champagne would suffer as a result.
The Observer reports that Sir Malcolm Jack, who was clerk of the Commons between 2006 and 2011, made the claim as he gave evidence to a committee looking at how government should be run last week.
The Lords feared that the quality of champagne would not be as good if they chose a joint service.
- Sir Malcolm Jack
It is reported that the news was met with gasps by those in attendance and Jack Straw, who was leading the committee, said in astonishment: "Did you make that up? Is that true?" to which Jack replied: "Yes, it is true."
The House of Lords has an annual catering budget of £1.3m and is reported to have bought in 17,000 bottles of bubbly since David Cameron's government took office in 2010.