POLITICS

Parliament's Boozy Lunches And Drinking Habits 'Have Changed', MP Claims After Eric Joyce Brawl

16/03/2013 11:59 GMT

The days of politicians enjoying booze-fuelled lunches and late-night drinking sessions are over, according to a Tory MP turned political commentator.

Changes to working hours and an increase in female MPs are believed to have led to politicians behaving in a more responsible way.

The comments come just days after Falkirk MP Eric Joyce was arrested on suspicion of assault after an alleged late-night brawl at a House of Commons bar.

Michael Brown told BBC Breakfast that he recalled having alcohol-fuelled lunches before being trundled back "in your chauffeur-driven car to the Houses of Parliament to ask a question to the Prime Minister, whisked off to the smoking room by my colleague Ian Gow for a lethal white lady, the house sat until two, three, 4 o'clock in the morning.

"I think today's members of parliament are much more responsible compared to then," he said.

Responding to Brown, recently-elected Labour MP Lucy Powell said she did not recognise the picture of political life painted by the former politician and said things have "changed a great deal".

eric joyce

Labour MP Eric Joyce's recent arrest for brawling is not an indication of MPs behaviour, Brown said

"I'm obviously pregnant and I've got children of my own so I'm not frequenting the bars particularly, but I actually think I'm a lot more typical of the MPs that are in parliament at the moment.

"There are a lot more parents, a lot more young mums and dads who are just keen to get home and see their kids at the end of a long day.

"I think the culture has changed a great deal from Michael Brown's era. That's not to say there isn't some residual problems," she said.

Powell added that one notable change is that one of the bars has been turned into a nursery - marking a significant shift in culture.

She said: "It may not have entirely left the building, but I think the majority of MPs are these days just very hardworking and getting on with the job, and we've seen in the last couple of years one of the bars has now been turned into a nursery which is where my daughter goes and it's a fantastic facility.

"And that's the changing nature of the Commons I think now."

Brown agreed with the Labour MP, adding "The fact is the bars are largely empty compared to my time in Parliament, and as Lucy indicated there are many more women members of parliament with families."

lucy powell

Fellow Labour MP Lucy Powell said the the culture has completely changed in recent years

Powell pointed out the change in working hours has also been significant in changing the way in which MPs spend their time.

"The hours have changed recently as well. It used to be that parliament would sit into the small hours of the morning nearly every night for late-night votes.

"We might have one of those on Monday for Leveson but that is really the exception now rather than the rule.

"And recently MPs voted to change the hours again so we now finish at 7 on Tuesday and Wednesdays and 5.30 on Thursdays.

"It's only Monday that there's the 10 o'clock late sitting, so the need to be there to have some dinner or have a drink is much reduced," she said.

Joyce has been bailed and left a central London police station by a back exit last night..

Before he got into a black cab, he said he had not been charged, adding that he had no further comment to make.

READ ALSO: