WESTMINSTER lawmakers and others spent more than £200,000 drinking in parliamentary bars in 2021 - despite premises having been closed for around half the year, The National can reveal.

Freedom of Information requests revealed that more than £45,000 was spent in The Woolsack in the House of Lords last year, despite it only having been open for the final three months.

In the House of Commons, around £108,000 was spent on drinks across three bars: Pugin Room, Smoking Room, and Strangers Bar. The bars were open for 19 months out of a possible 36 - although the Pugin Room took just £16.65 in July.

This total is slightly down on the £133,672 the three bars took in 2020.

READ MORE: Andrew Tickell: The alcohol culture at Westminster goes deeper than Boris Johnson

Elsewhere in the Lords, the Peers’ Guest Room took more than £28,000 in 2021. It was open every month except February, March, and August, but only sold soft drinks in January and April. In each of those two months, the bar’s takings were under £1000.

The Lords Bar was open for seven months and took in more than £21,000.

The FOI requests only covered House of Commons and House of Lords bars, which account for six of the approximately 30 watering holes on the Westminster estate.

In total £203,910.71 was spent across those six premises in 2021. They were open for 38 of the 72 possible months, selling alcohol for 36.

Drinks purchased on the estate are significantly cheaper than elsewhere in central London. Parliament’s bars and catering facilities run at a loss, with taxpayers footing the bill.

Danielle Boxall, media campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance, told The National: "Westminster’s many watering holes shouldn’t be propped up by the public purse.

"It is galling for people to know that their cash is still being used to subsidise the food and drink being enjoyed by politicians and their staff.

"Parliament's authorities must reform the system so that taxpayers are no longer facilitating what ought to be profitable outlets."

Heidi Allen, who sat as a Tory MP from 2015 to 2019, said in January that Westminster’s drinking culture was “like freshers’ week” at a university.

“The smell of alcohol in the voting lobbies could be quite strong sometimes,” she told an event organised by the Bright Blue think tank.

The National: Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, making a statement ahead of an emergency debate relating to standards.

While in the running to take on the role he now holds as Speaker of the House of Commons, Lindsay Hoyle (above) said he thought Westminster had a problem with both drink and drugs.

“We should have health and wellbeing in place for drink and drug counselling, and real support for anybody who needs it,” he added.

An investigation by The Sunday Times in December 2021 found cocaine in 11 out of 12 Westminster toilets tested for the illegal substance.

The figures quoted above include all drinks, including soft, and VAT.