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Bottled Water

Volume 464: debated on Monday 8 October 2007

23. How much bottled water was (a) sold and (b) provided within the House in the most recent year for which figures are available. (156077)

A total of 105,957 litres of bottled water was sold by the House of Commons Refreshment Department in 2006-07. In the same year, 16,200 litres of bottled water were supplied to the Department of the Serjeant at Arms for use in Committee Rooms, and 34,000 litres of bottled water were provided mainly in water coolers to staff of the House.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that answer, but is it not time, when we are looking at environmental change and the enormous environmental costs of bottled water, that the House of Commons stopped preaching to the rest of the country and started to reduce its use of bottled water, to use tap water and to stop all the waste of the empty bottles, too?

I have a lot of sympathy with what the right hon. Gentleman says. Of course, in the restaurants and bars of the House, this is a matter of choice for the individual consumer. Tap water is available free of charge in all Refreshment Department outlets. In March, the Administration Committee studied the issue of Committees using water and concluded that logistical constraints, health and safety issues and staffing costs meant that there was quite a complex issue to be considered. If he wishes to look at that report and to make further suggestions, I assure him that it need not necessarily be viewed as the last word on the matter.

Would it not be a good idea, if we have to have bottles, to have them refilled from the tap in the House rather than their being carried from one part of the country to another?

As I say, I have a lot of sympathy with that proposition. That was exactly what the Administration Committee looked at. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to make further proposals to the Committee, I am sure that it will be pleased to listen to them.