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Are Members of Parliament Allowed to Drink Alcohol in the House of Commons?

Every year, the Chancellor of the Exchequer -- the UK's top finance minister -- delivers a budget statement to the assembled Members of Parliament in the House of Commons, characterizing the state of the national economy and proposing the coming year’s budget, including possible changes to taxation policies. In keeping with the rules of Parliament, the chancellor is allowed to have a drink (alcoholic or otherwise) while delivering the budget speech. This "budget tipple" is the only occasion when alcohol is allowed in the House of Commons chamber. Speculation about what drink the chancellor will sip on while he or she delivers the budget, which is carried to the floor in a ceremonial red “despatch box,” is all part of an old parliamentary tradition, although recent chancellors have simply opted for mineral or tap water.

A little cheer for the chancellor:

  • Benjamin Disraeli enjoyed a brandy with water as his budget tipple. His Victorian rival, William Gladstone, preferred sherry with a beaten egg. Other chancellors have opted for whisky, a gin and tonic, or a wine spritzer.
  • The next Budget speech will take place on 29 October 2018, delivered by the current Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond. He will most likely stick to plain mineral water as his drink of choice.
  • While this once-a-year tradition allows a traditional toast of sorts for the chancellor, smoking has been completely banned in the House of Commons chamber since 1693.

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