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UK Food and Drink

Volume 650: debated on Thursday 29 November 2018

1. What steps the Commission is taking to increase the sale of UK-produced food and drink (a) in catering outlets and (b) for events hosted on the parliamentary estate. (907924)

The right hon. Gentleman will be very pleased to know that there is a lot of promotional activity for British food. For example, Red Tractor Week took place in September, and we worked with British farmers and the National Farmers Union to promote British food. He will also be pleased to know that the wine list in Strangers’ and Members’ includes a good selection of English wines. Something that he may want to consider—if he has not already taken advantage of it—is that individual Members can ask for a specific cask of ale from an independent regional brewer from their constituency to be placed in the Strangers’ bar.

I am certainly aware of the provision for regional breweries in the Strangers’ bar. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the steps that the Commission has taken on this and on reducing plastic use, but will the Commission take the lead from other public bodies in ensuring that our suppliers are, at every possible opportunity, prioritising and insisting on supporting British farmers, manufacturers and workers, and maximising UK-produced food and drink, especially from small and medium-sized enterprises?

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that in this place we push hard for very high quality produce, which is often British-sourced. The overwhelming majority of food throughout the catering establishments is British. If he is suggesting that we should adopt a “buy British” policy, I am sure he aware that that is not something that we can do in practice.

As the House of Commons Commission is encouraging British-produced food and drink on the parliamentary estate, may I commend to the right hon. Gentleman Weetabix breakfast cereal made in Burton Latimer and Warner Edwards gin made in Harrington—both within the Kettering constituency—as appropriate for the start and end of the parliamentary day?

I am sure that other cereals are available. I commend the moves of the catering outlets and events teams to increasing UK-produced food and drink, but will the right hon. Gentleman recommend to the Commission an increase in the amount of UK-produced healthy food, especially after the success of Vegan November?

I will certainly pursue that suggestion to ensure that the food here is not only British, but healthy as well.

Following the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol West (Thangam Debbonaire), may I stress to the right hon. Gentleman that there really is a need for more diversity in the food served by the catering outlets, particularly vegetarian and vegan food? This is an extremely important issue for members of the public and Members of the House.

Absolutely; it is necessary for this estate to respond to the increase in veganism, perhaps in the way in which the kebab industry has, whereby vegan kebabs are now available.