The Terrible Reality Of Dining In The British House Of Lords

Few countries are as linked to the concept of the class system as the United Kingdom, and there’s no greater symbol of class within the U.K. than the House of Lords.

The Lords, as its referred to, is the upper house of Parliament in the British system. Originally composed only of hereditary peerage (the dukes, the marquesses, the earls, etc), it was once the most powerful part of parliament. Nowadays, however, the upper house wields far less power than the lower, and the hereditary members are slowly being phased out, replaced by Lords appointed by the Prime Minister or the House of Lords Appointments Commission, an independent body. There’s even been talk of elections.

Even so, the Lords is still a remarkably fussy place, as evidenced by a recent investigation into their taxpayer-subsidized restaurants published by the Independent. Using a Freedom of Information request, the British newspaper was able to obtain a “steady stream” of complaints about the restaurants being sent to Lord John Sewel, the Chairman of Committees. Notable excerpts include the Lord who complained that a 15-minute wait led him to lose “some of the finesse of the afternoon.” Another said that when their dinner reservation was cancelled, he and his wife were at a loss for somewhere else to dine — because she was wearing a tiara.

Of course, bad service is always annoying. But when you consider that the House of Lords’ restaurants are said to cost the British taxpayer £60,000 ($100,000) a week, it seems a little ungrateful; a subsidized Sirloin steak goes for £16 in the House of Lords’ Peers’ Dining Room (not a bad price in London).

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