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Stormont biscuit bill three times that of Scottish parliament

More than £250,000 was spent on Stormont committee refreshments between 2007/08 and 2014/15
Brendan Hughes

STORMONT spending on refreshments for committee meetings is three times that of the Scottish Parliament.

The figure emerged after The Irish News last week revealed the bill is also treble that of the House of Commons ­– and eight times more than the Welsh assembly.

More than a quarter of a million pounds was spent on Stormont committee refreshments between 2007/08 and 2014/15 – an average of around £32,000 a year.

Spending has also increased for the third year in a row despite a pledge to cut back.

The House of Commons in London has forked out an average of £10,400 annually and the figure for the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff is just £4,300.

And now the Scottish Parliament has confirmed that its committee refreshments bill was £10,023 for the 2015/16 financial year.

A spokeswoman said the expenditure includes the cost of providing refreshments to witnesses that give evidence to the 16 committees at Holyrood.

Unlike Stormont, where MLAs have enjoyed tea, coffee, sandwiches and biscuits over the years, the only refreshment served at formal committee meetings in the Commons is bottled water.

TUV leader and North Antrim MLA Jim Allister last week said the contrast was striking.

"These figures underscore Stormont's ability to squander taxpayers' money is unsurpassed," he said.

Last September eyebrows were raised when – while Stormont appeared on the brink of collapse – an assembly committee debated whether they should receive free hot beverages.

The assembly has previously defended refreshment spending, saying it "actively seeks to reduce costs".

It also said refreshments are provided at committee meetings "as the meetings can be lengthy and without breaks".

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