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After Bar Brawl, British Parliament Moves To Limit Members' Drinks

When Parliament is in session, some may be overdoing it.
Dan Kitwood
Getty Images
When Parliament is in session, some may be overdoing it.

Getting into a fight at one of the four bars within the borders of the British Parliament's grounds not only brought House of Commons member Eric Joyce (a Labour MP) unwanted notoriety, it has also led to orders that bartenders and event staff start cutting off obviously intoxicated lawmakers.

Which, of course, would seem like something they already should have known they should do.

As the BBC says:

"Commons staff are being told to cut down on topping up MPs' glasses at receptions in an effort to encourage 'responsible alcohol use.' They are also to get more training on how to refuse to serve MPs considered to have had too much to drink."

According to a statement from the House of Commons Commission, there also may be some changes in the "opening hours of bars on the Parliamentary Estate."

Larry Miller reporting from London

Larry Miller reports for our Newscast Desk that "currently, drinks are served [at the bars] as long as Parliament sits and that could be into the small hours of the morning."

The BBC says that for decades members of Parliament been drinking their way "through Westminster life in the convivial comfort of its numerous saloons. The Houses of Parliament has the feel of a cruise ship, with different watering holes for its various passengers branching off the carpeted corridors."

And there has been "many a drunken skirmish over the years."

Joyce was fined nearly $5,000 and banned from pubs for three months after the February brawl. He reportedly head-butted some other members after loudly declaring there were "too many" Tories in the bar, the BBC says.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.